With the Red Sox trying to put the Rays away in a three-game series beginning Friday, John Lackey has given all three Rays fans reasons to hope: he just left with the Red Sox down 5-0 after three innings.
It’s the first early exit for Lackey during the second half, but it’s the sixth straight outing in which he’s given up at least four runs. He’s hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in a start since facing the Mariners on July 22 and he hasn’t done so against a good offense but once all season (against Philadelphia on June 29).
So, while the newspapers have debated whether Lackey or Erik Bedard should start Game 3 of the postseason series for the Red Sox, the real debate is whether Lackey should be on the postseason roster at all. He might be a better bet in October to go six innings and give up four runs than Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller, but there really doesn’t seem to be any upside here at all.
With Clay Buchholz making progress and hopeful of returning as a reliever at the end of the month, the Red Sox really need to think about stretching out Alfredo Aceves and setting him up as a postseason fourth starter. He pitched 3 1/3 innings last time out on Monday, so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Aceves, who made four starts earlier this season, has a 2.87 ERA in 94 innings on the year.
Of course, the Red Sox also have to be concerned with simply making the postseason. They’re lead over the Rays will drop to 5 1/2 games if they go on to lose tonight.
Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez sat out the final series of the regular season in order to rest a strained left intercostal muscle, but there was good news coming out of a workout today in advance of Tuesday’s Wild Card game vs. the Yankees.
This has been a lingering issue for Gomez, who missed 13 straight games with the injury last month. He aggravated the strain on a throw to home plate last Wednesday and was forced to sit while the Astros fought to keep their season alive. Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last week that Gomez’s injury would typically take 45-50 days to recover from, so it’s fair to wonder how productive he can be during the postseason.
Gomez mostly struggled after coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline, batting .242 with four home runs and a .670 OPS over 41 games.
Nathan Eovaldi hasn’t pitched in a month due to right elbow inflammation, but he told Chad Jennings of the Journal News today that he expects to pitch out of the bullpen if the Yankees advance to the ALDS against the Royals.
Eovaldi was originally expected to throw a 35-pitch bullpen session today, but the Yankees moved up his timetable after the news that CC Sabathia was checking into alcohol rehab. Instead, he threw 10 pitches in a bullpen session before facing hitters for the first time since his injury.
There isn’t enough time for Eovaldi to get stretched out to start during the ALDS, but he could still play an important role for the Yankees, especially with Adam Warren looking like the most likely option to replace Sabathia in the rotation.