The Cleveland Indians have already earned the top seed in the American, so this means that they will be facing the winner of the wild-card game.
Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox having clinched the division means they will not have to play them until the ALCS (depending on if they both make it). This also means that the Red Sox will be playing against the Houston Astros in ALDS.
With that said, decisions are going to have to be made about who’s going to be a starter, and who is going off to the bullpen.
Here’s what Prime Time projects the rotation to be.
Game 1: Chris Sale
This selection is a no-brainer. Over the span of his seven-year career, Chris Sale has faced off against the Astro’s a total of six times. His ERA against Houston is his second lowest among American League teams he has faced. It is at 1.31.
As for this season, Sale has been the Ace of this BoSox squad and has proven himself with ample amounts of quality outings. Also, this is his first time being on a playoff-bound team, so he is as motivated as ever to perform to the best of his ability to win a championship.
The one concerning thing with this is the his numbers in Sept. He has a career 3.78 ERA in the month, with a total of 38 home runs against him. If his numbers spill into the Oct. month, there will be a big reason to worry.
Game 2: Drew Pomeranz
Aside from two poor starts in September, Drew Pomeranz has earned his spot in the rotation for the postseason. He has been the left-hand man to Chris Sale all season, and at some points, he was even better.
All season he has been working his ERA down after a mediocre first month. He has gotten it down to a 3.38 after it was at a high of 5.29 in mid-May.
He has never started in a playoff game in his entire career. He made two relief appearances in the ALDS last year, one of the two were less than ideal. He allowed two runs over just one and a third innings pitched.
But 2017 Drew Pomeranz is far better than 2016 Drew Pomeranz as we can see.
Game 3: Doug Fister
Before you question this choice, think about this. Why would you want to give a power-hitting team the advantage of starting three lefties back-to-back-to-back in the first three games? You don’t want them to get comfortable with pitches from that side of the mound that early in a series. The last thing you want to give this heavy-hitting team is any sense of security.
Another reason for this idea is his strong ability to pitch in the playoffs. In his last eight of his nine total playoff games, he has flashed numbers like a 1.72 ERA and an opponent batting average of .247. In each of those eight starts, he allowed less than three earned runs.
He is the only starter in this rotation with at least one win in the playoffs. He has three.
Game 4: The Bullpen
This idea is only valid if David Price and the bullpen crew have not been overworked until this point in the series.
Price, being the only real starter that would be the starting pitcher in this game. He should not be going any more than four innings as he is still recovering from his injury and not ready to do much more yet. Since Sept. 17th, he has tossed 8.2 innings worth of relief appearances without allowing a run to score. In that same span, he has struck out 13 batters of the 32 he’s faced. This is a great sign for the future.
Other men who could be included in this game are Matt Barnes, Austin Maddox, Robby Scott and Joe Kelly.
Each of them have proven on more than one occasion that they are able to pitch more than one successful inning each.
Let’s just say hypothetically that the bullpen has been overworked and this idea doesn’t come to fruition. So, you just start Sale again since this game four scheduled five days after game 1.