So the Patriots are wrapping up their preseason schedule on Thursday night against the Giants and the Sox are still playing meaningful games in a pennant race. That’s what we all ask for right? A competitive baseball team (that hit a few rough, the sky is falling moments this summer) that is playing well into the fall long enough for football to start.
The Sox are four games up in the Wild Card as we start the month. They have a very good one, two punch rivaled by very few in baseball. But after that it’s a very shaky rotation that scares many of us fans.
Tim Wakefield – The All Star that started the season so brilliantly hit the DL after the All Star break and we’ve seen him once since then. After that one start it was announced he’d miss his next start with tightness in his back. Wakefield has been the odd man out the last few postseasons even volunteering himself to be left off the roster in the 2007 World Series making room for the emergence of Jon Lester. Hopefully all the Sox money buys him some doctors that get him through the regular season and post season. He’s your #3 if he’s healthy heading into the post season.
Junichi Tazawa – The young rookie that was playing in some industrial league in Japan a year ago has made it to The Show all the way from Double A this season. Greeted with an A-Roid walk off in his first appearance he bounced back with a win against Detroit, a loss against the Rangers, a Houdini act against the Yankees and then a crushing at the hands of the White Sox last time out. Up and down isn’t any way to head into the post season. Maybe he rights the ship this month, not likely with him being a rook and all.
Clay Buchholz – The one that some yahoo on sports radio should be replaced by Tazawa. Um, Tazawa has a 6.65 ERA while Clay has an ERA more than two runs lower at 4.38. 2-2 in August the team won four of his six starts. He’s looked very good his last time out against the Blue Jays pitching into the ninth. Without a healthy Wakefield he’s your #3 heading into the postseason and many fans are OK with that.
Paul Byrd – Don’t let one start against a Blue Jays team that’s quit for the season fool you into thinking that you have an ace in Byrd. He’s probably better than he was last year just based on the fact that his arm isn’t as tired as it was last year. If he makes the post season roster it’ll likely be as a mop up guy (what’s Saito going to do then?). He’ll be a serviceable fifth starter to play out the season and they may move Tazawa into the pen during that stretch. Can’t be any worse than Penny (who just signed with the Giants) or Smoltz (pitching gems of St Louis).
Not four guys you want to really rely on down the stretch but that’s what you have. I liken this to the Pats in 2005. They were in a “rebuilding year” and still made it to the playoffs only to lose to the Broncos. Well, the Sox have a young staff with Buchholz and Tazawa in the mix. Oh and Matzucrappa is stinking up the minors hoping for a come back this season (no thank you). Maybe this isn’t the year that they win it all, but it’s been a great ride so far.