Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Rotation set: Dice-K, Beckett, Lester, Wakefield

Terry Francona today announced his rotation for the American League Championship Series:

Game 1 (Friday in Tampa Bay): Daisuke Matsuzaka
Game 2 (Saturday in Tampa Bay): Josh Beckett
Game 3 (Monday at Fenway Park): Jon Lester
Game 4 (Tuesday at Fenway Park): Tim Wakefield
Game 5 (Thursday, Oct. 16, at Fenway Park, if necessary): Matsuzaka
Game 6 (Saturday, Oct. 18, at Tropicana Field, if necessary): Beckett
Game 7 (Sunday, Oct. 19, at Tropicana Field, if necessary): Lester

Francona said he didn't spent too much time looking at matchups, home-road splits, indoor-outdoor splits, anything like that. For his pitchers, he said, the biggest factor was rest and routine.

"The reasoning is actually pretty simple," he said. "It gives people rest -- not too much rest, and not too little. This is the best way and not have one guy going on eight (days' rest) and another guy going on regular. We'll keep everybody somewhat in line. Rest, at this time of year, is huge, and we'll take advantage of it while trying not to give too much. ...

"You can get into a lot of details, but there didn't really need to be. The way it lined up was appropriate. For us, factoring in the fact that those three will pitch twice if it goes to seven, in the end, as long as they're pitching, the order isn't as important, so you go on what's best for them."

One natural question was his choice of Wakefield over Paul Byrd.

"We considered everything," he said. "When it comes down to what serves the ballclub best, Byrd can probably be used a little more flexibly -- is that a word? -- more flexible out of the bullpen. You line up Wake and you put him with (catcher Kevin) Cash, and you see how far he can go and you can make your determinations on how to go to the bullpen as opposed to trying bring in Wake in the middle of a game, knowing that he's possibly throwing to a catcher you haven't had (him throw to). It's kind of an easy decision when you look at all the dynamics of it."

One reporter pressed Francona on his reasons for pitching Beckett in Game 2 rather than trying to move up the scorching-hot Lester and have him available in Game 6 rather than Game 7. Francona was almost incredulous.

"If you do that, you have one guy going on normal rest who has been pushed pretty good two starts in a row, and then you have another guy that's pitched once in three weeks that would be (pitching) once in three weeks," Francona said. "Before Beckett's last start, he was the best postseason pitcher maybe in the history of the game. He had the audacity to be a little rusty after two weeks. We don't need to run away from Beckett. We need to get him on a run."

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