The Red Sox announced that Josh Beckett will be activated from the disabled list and will start Saturday’s game in Seattle. Manager Bobby Valentine also told the media that the club will go with a 6-man starting rotation over the next eleven games leading up to the all-star game in Kansas City. We’ve heard of this plan before, only to have starters drop like flies thanks to the injury bug. But with eleven games in eleven days, a 6-man rotation may just be what the doctor ordered.
Thanks to the rain delay that saw the Red Sox relieved of a Yankee sweep back in April, the makeup game is scheduled for July 7th. Add a seven-game, west coast road trip prior to that and you’re going to have a tired ball club upon their return across multiple time zones, making the addition of another starter a valuable asset and option to have.
The Sox starters aren’t exactly dominating every start. Sure Daisuke Matsuzaka had a nice outing the other night against Toronto, but even he hasn’t proven he’s consistent every fifth night. Jon Lester has been the recipient of an offensive outburst that has allowed him to even his mediocre record at 5-5, but he’s become almost a guarantee for giving up 4 earned runs. Aaron Cook is still adjusting to the workload thanks to a late start to the season due to injury. The secret appears to be out on Felix Doubront as teams are lighting him up like a Christmas tree in his last few outings. Some time to make adjustments and recover will go a long way. Josh Beckett is coming off the disable list and could probably use the rest of an extra off day. Franklin Morales is still in the process of getting stretched out as a starter, so he will most certainly benefit from the sixth man.
The only downside is with Beckett’s finicky starting routine. He’s a man of habit and does his best work when he’s on the mound every fifth day. Remember the start against Cleveland when he missed a start? Ya, it wasn’t pretty. Now he’s been on the shelf for two weeks, will make one start in Seattle and another against New York, but it will be on six, maybe seven days rest. His routine will be greatly altered meaning we could be in for a slug fest with the Yankees.
Yet, after the all-star break the Sox will have 77 games remaining on the season, including the dog days of summer and the all important stretch run in September. A rested Josh Beckett and a rested, healthy rotation for the second half of the season is more important than having guys in a comfortable routine now. Throw in a healthy Clay Buchholz and while the rotation will be crowded, we’ve already seen this is a nice problem to have.
Manager Bobby Valentine has looked like a genius at times this season. Before anyone starts jumping all over me for that statement, hear me out. Remember the game last week against Atlanta when he intentionally walked a batter to try for double play? It worked and yeah, maybe it was luck, but a nice strategy none the less. He has also handled the bullpen extremely well all season, well most of the season, making the right calls at the right time. So maybe this six-man rotation is another example of Bobby’s ability to foresee the results before they happen. Let’s hope so as these next eleven games will be crucial to put the Red Sox in a great position heading into the second half of the schedule.