When the Boston Red Sox put away the Tampa Bay Rays in four games in the ALDS the importance of both home field advantage, putting away opponents early and being well rested was never more clearly underscored.
Jon Lester will very likely get the ball Saturday against either the Detroit Tigers or Oakland As after he and the team earned a nice breather while Detroit and Oakland go down to the wire. John Farrell and company are positioned just where they want to be; rested and looking to leverage the 2-3-2 seven-game series format. Home field advantage proved to be just that in the series against the Rays and they’re hoping for just the same sort of advantage in the ALCS.
While an argument can be made for the battle hardened playoff contender – a number of wild card teams and underdogs have gone all the way in the recent past – longer layoffs play to Boston’s strength. Lester got some extra days off in the second half of the season and he responded.
After a strong start to the season Lester stumbled badly as his innings mounted and the Sox headed into the All-Star break, going 8-6 with a 4.58 ERA. After the All-Star be got more rest and even skipped a start, allowing him to go 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA. Jake Peavy has likewise benefitted from additional rest. Rest has helped Shane Victorino‘s hamstring and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s healing navicular bone in his foot. Time truly heals all wounds.
If the Sox are lucky enough to continue their early playoff close outs and hold home field advantage it will spell good things for a pitching staff that is presently very good but not dominant. They’ll go deeper in games, which will take pressure off the bullpen and set up Koji Uehara to do the thing that he does so well, aside from the game winning homer to Jose Lobaton in game three against the Rays.
With this team I’ll take rest over a strenuously tested club that has to win in seven games in the ALCS. The Red Sox meet either the Tigers or the As Saturday night at Fenway Park on Fox.
Red Sox post season hitting statistics.