I guess I was wrong in thinking that Ken Rosenthal was getting tired of being asked about whether the Red Sox would start Beckett in tonight's game. This is what he wrote today on Fox Sports...he makes a good argument for why the Red Sox should start Beckett on short rest but I have to disagree.
A lot of the debate is centered around Beckett's shutout of the Yankees to clinch the '03 World Series. Think about this when Beckett pitched on three days rest in 2004 it was the last day of the season. There wasn't going to be another game and that could still be the case if the Sox don't win tonight but Tito managing to win a World Series.
That means he has to think about the fact that he's going to want Beckett to pitch twice in the World Series...of course they have to make it there...but in 2003 the very old school Jack McKeon wasn't concerned with Beckett coming back to pitch again until the day pitchers and catchers reported in 2004.
I'm not even going to go into the fact that the numbers are pretty clearly against starting guys on three days rest and that's because Beckett is not someone like Chen-Ming Wang and I'm sure he'd be fine on short rest. The biggest thing here is that Tito has already said he's going with Wakefield but Fox and ESPN insist that there is a story here. There might be a debate about whether that is the right choice but it's not a story, the Sox are going with Wake...and they should.
If the Red Sox are going to win the ALCS, never mind the World Series, then someone besides Josh Beckett is going to have to win a game.
If you throw Beckett tonight and tie the series at 2-2 then what? the Combo of Wake, Schilling and Dice-K still has to win at least one game. I love Beckett and he is pitching great but someone else has to step up or it won't matter if he wins game one, four and seven. I agree with Tito and think that going with Wakefield tonight and Beckett on normal rest you have a better chance of winning the series than trying to rely solely on the right arm of Josh Beckett.
I think that's more of a reason not to start Beckett tonight than worrying about him getting hurt. I don't think the Red Sox are worried that he'll get hurt or even get lit up. I think they are conscious of the fact that someone else needs to win a game...or at least pitch more than 4+ innings. Also if the Sox beat the Indians last night would C.C. Sabathia be pitching tonight on 3 days rest? Would that be the big story today...the Indians are crazy to not start Sabathia or the Indians are coddling Sabathia by not starting him on three days rest.
People probably wouldn't be saying that about Sabathia because he has not pitched all that well but what about things over in the NL? Brandon Webb didn't pitch on three days rest for the D-Backs and they were down 3-0 in the NLCS. Why aren't people talking about Arizona being crazy for not starting its ace on three days rest in an elimination game? The Red Sox offense needs to start clicking and stop stranding runners. It's the same as the pitching someone other than Beckett needs to win a game and someone other than Manny, Papi and Lowell needs to get some clutch hits.
The real questions surrounding who the Red Sox should send out isn't about who should pitch but whether the Sox should stick with JD Drew or switch to Jacoby Ellsbury in right. I am sure there is a large contingent of people that are feeling like JD's had his chance and its time to bring in Jacoby but I have to disagree.
Something has to be said for Drew's experience and the fact that Ellsbury only has 160-some-odd at-bats. I know you're thinking I'm only saying that because I said I thought he'd have good postseason, clearly i was wrong but I think you have to go the Tito route and stick with you guy in this case.
My reasoning for this is simple. Everyone hates the fact that Drew seems to play with no emotion he just goes out and plays, sometimes well sometimes not so well. Either way he carries himself like his veins are full of embalming fluid...and maybe some Worcestershire sauce...people here love guys like Trot and Youkilis who wear their emotion on their sleeves but that's not JD Drew and that is exactly why he is perfect for this series. Look at what Pedroia has done in the post season. He was .317/.380/.422 with 50 RBI, a team low 42 strikeouts in 520 at-bats in the regular season. In the postseason he's .160/.222/.240 with seven strikeouts and one RBI in 25 at-bats.
I think that is a result of him trying to do to much, changing his approach to the plate and trying to force it. Drew isn't going to do that he's going to stick to his gameplan and emotion is not going to make him try to force it.
Granted his gameplan hasn't worked all that well he's not going to succum to the pressures of the biggest stage. I have faith in Jacoby and I wouldn't be upset if the Sox sent him out there I just don't know if it's the right move. As for tonight I think it might be best to start Bobby Kielty as his numbers against Paul Byrd are pretty good.