Lester Gets the Nod, A Look Towards Opening Day

Extra, Extra! News flash! Jon Lester is the Boston Red Sox 2011 opening day Starter. Oh, wait. You already knew that? So it isn’t really surprising news after all? No? The start wasn’t even in question from day 1, but Terry Francona, in his usual fashion, waited to officially announce the Red Sox opening day starter until today, before the Sox took on the Atlanta Braves. Since the news of Lester being selected to pitch isn’t earth shattering or even really up for debate and there isn’t much to discuss, I thought it might be interesting to look back at the opening day starters for the Red Sox each of the last 10 seasons and take a look at how opening day went and how the remainder of their season panned out. It’s fun to take a trip down memory lane and get a sense for some trends along the way.

2001

Pedro Martinez at Baltimore Orioles (Pat Hentgen)
Game Result: 2-1 Loss
Season Totals: 18 Starts, 7-3, 2.39 ERA

2002

Pedro Martinez vs. Toronto Blue Jays (Chris Carpenter)
Game Result: 12-11 Loss
Season Totals: 30 Starts, 20-4, 2.26 ERA

2003

Pedro Martinez at Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays (Joe Kennedy)
Game Result: 6-4 Loss
Season Totals: 29 Starts, 14-4, 2.22 ERA

2004

Pedro Martinez at Baltimore Orioles (Sidney Ponson)
Game Result: 7-2 Loss
Season Totals: 33 Starts, 16-9, 3.90 ERA

2005

David Wells at New York Yankees (Randy Johnson)
Game Result: 9-2 Loss
Season Totals: 30 Starts, 15-7, 4.45 ERA

2006

Curt Schilling at Texas Rangers (Kevin Millwood)
Game Result: 7-3 Win
Season Totals: 31 Starts, 15-7, 3.97 ERA

2007

Curt Schilling at Kansas City Royals (Gil Meche)
Game Result: 7-1 Loss
Season Totals: 24 Starts, 9-8, 3.87 ERA

2008

Daisuke Matsuzaka at Oakland Athletics (Joe Blanton)
Game Result: 6-5 Win
Season Totals: 29, 18-3, 2.90 ERA

2009

Josh Beckett vs. Tampa Bay Rays (James Shields)
Game Result: 5-3 Win
Season Totals: 32 Starts, 17-6, 3.86 ERA

2010

Josh Beckett vs. New York Yankees (C.C. Sabathia)
Game Result: 9-7 Win
Season Totals: 21 Starts, 6-6, 5.78 ERA

A few quick observations:
  • Losing on opening day seems to be an omen for future success (i.e. 2004, 2007). Either an omen or a complete coincidence, you decide.
  • The Red Sox have begun the season on the road in 7 of the last 10 years, including beginning the season in Tokyo against the Athletics in 2008.
  • The Red Sox have won 4 of their last 5 opening days, but lost 6 of 10 overall. Pedro had 3 seasons with better ERAs than any other starter on the list, but was 0 for 4 on opening day (2001-2004).
  • Dice-K’s best season, by far, was in 2008 when he was the opening day starter. Is that his secret to success? We certainly won’t find out any time soon.
  • Overall, opening day starters have fared pretty well. Only David Wells in 2005 and Josh Beckett in 2010 had final ERAs above 4.00 the season they were the opening day starter. Also, no opening day starter has finished the season with a losing record. Beckett last season had the worst record at 6-6.

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Topics: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, C.C. Sabathia, Chris Carpenter, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Wells, Gil Meche, James Shields, Joe Blanton, Joe Kennedy, Josh Beckett, Kansas City Royals, Kevin Millwood, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Pat Hentgen, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Sidney Ponson, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Francona, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays

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