After another amazing regular season in the books for 2017. It is time to pull our focus to postseason baseball. Thursday, the Red Sox will head to Houston to start the American League Division Series against the Astros. Chris Sale is set to pitch Game 1 and Drew Pomeranz will start Game 2 of the series, both at Minute Maid Park. The big question surrounding the Red Sox is who will manager, John Farrell, hand the ball to for Game 3 at Fenway Park? Will it be last years Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello? Will it be Doug Fister, who has the only postseason win on this Red Sox rotation? Or will it be someone else who takes on the postseason pressure to prove their worth in a competitive Game 3 at home?
Obviously this decision is going to be based off the performance of the Red Sox in the first two games of this series. Lets brake down some predictions for who should pitch in what situation.
Game 3 – Red Sox down in the series 0-2:
First of all, lets hope that we don’t have a recap of last year’s ALDS and have to go through this agony again, BUT let’s just say this happens. The right move here is for Doug Fister to take the hill in Game 3. I know some people are going to say “Rick Porcello is a Cy Young winner!”, “Doug Fister has no talent compared to Porcello”, blah blah blah… The reality is, Rick Porcello has had a bad year. In 33 starts this year, Porcello has a record of 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA he’s let up a career high 38 home runs, and a WAR of -0.5. On top of that, In last seasons post season performance when he went just 4.1 innings giving up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 3 home runs in a loss to Cleveland. Porcello is not a reliable guy to pitch in an elimination game against one of the more potent lineups in Major League Baseball.
My choice is Doug Fister, the only pitcher in this rotation with a postseason win. Now his season stats aren’t anything to ride home about either. He has a 5-9 record with a 4.88 ERA in 15 starts with the team, but he has a huge advantage over the other options and that is his post season experience. He’s been there before, he’s won games in big spots, he knows what it takes to win when it matters. Now I am not saying he is our savior, and choosing him to pitch gives us an automatic win…it doesn’t. What I am saying is that this is a guy that can enter a big game situation, give us at least 5 solid innings of pitching and leave the rest to our strong bullpen (Price, Smith, Reed, Kimbrel, etc). When it comes down to the wire, I would rather have the guy with postseason wins under his belt than a guy who has never won in the postseason.
Predicted Starting Pitcher- Doug Fister
Game 3 – Red Sox tied 1-1 in the ALDS
In a tied series going into Game 3 is where the Red Sox have a little more leeway on who we put on the mound. With this situation I would be a lot more willing to give Porcello the start. Although I don’t have all the trust in the world in his ability to perform in a postseason game, given the situation, it just makes sense. Last season we saw the ability Porcello can bring to the table and although he hasn’t been up to par this year, It’s a right move to give him a chance in a postseason situation where elimination isn’t on the table. A series tie gives Porcello less pressure going into this game and gives him the confidence he needs to throw strikes. The plus side of this whole series is we have a strong bullpen that includes guys that can eat innings like David Price. In reality (assuming David Price isn’t used up in the previous two games) we only need Porcello to give us 4 solid innings, which would allow for Price to come into the 5th, give us a couple strong innings like he’s done since coming off the disabled list, then leave it to the shutdown bullpen. This is a smart move for Farrell. Low risk, high reward.
Predicted Starting Pitcher Rick Porcello
Game 3 – Red Sox leading series 2-0 in the ALDS.
Now here is where I might get some criticism for my prediction. With a 2-0 lead going into game 3 of the ALDS at home assuming he is not already used out the pen in the previous 2 games of this series, David Price should be named starter for Game 3. Now let me make my case. I know David Price has a terrible postseason record in his career, but this gives the Red Sox another chance to test out his ability in a low risk situation. David Price has actually looked pretty good so far in the bullpen since coming off the DL . He hasn’t let up any runs since returning, and his elbow seems to be healthier than it was before going on the DL. I see this as an opportunity for him to prove his worth in the postseason and give the Sox some quality innings, knowing that if a Game 4 is necessary we have Chris Sale available to pitch at home. Price has shown glimpses of his star pitching ability since coming off the DL and this is a great situation for him to finally get his first career postseason win.
Predicted Starting Pitcher David Price
Let me know your thoughts on who you think should get the start in Game 3!