Lester vs Shields: a marquee matchup for Red Sox fans


Tonight’s AL Wild Card Game is big for all baseball fans; two teams with playoff aspirations face each other in a do-or-die game with everything on the line. For tonight’s Royals-Athletics matchup, however, you shouldn’t just watch it as a baseball fan. You should watch it as a Red Sox fan.

As my colleague Sean Sylver wrote earlier today, this AL Wild Card Game has major implications for the Red Sox, particularly on the starting pitching front. Former Red Sox ace Jon Lester will square off against James Shields in a game which could very likely pit Boston’s top two free agent targets against one another in a potential pitching duel.

After trading Lester and John Lackey to the A’s and Cardinals, respectively, the Red Sox enter the offseason with serious question marks throughout the rotation. Clay Buchholz is the only player on the team that will definitely start in the Red Sox’ rotation next season, and he has some question marks of his own judging by his 5.31 ERA this season, though Joe Kelly (6-4, 4.20 ERA) will likely make it in as well. Aside from those two, however, the Red Sox have a mix on inexperienced rookies, none of whom truly impressed this season.

So with the Red Sox in dire need of starting pitching and likely priced out of the sweepstakes for Tigers’ stud Max Scherzer, Lester (16-11, 2.46 ERA) and Shields (14-8, 3.21 ERA) represent the two most realistic bets for Boston to land an ace this offseason. This will one of those pitchers’ last start of the season and fans get a two-for-one deal on these two top targets for the Red Sox, making this a must-watch for BoSox fans.

Once again, this is a must-watch game for baseball fans of all orientation. However, it’s more important for Red Sox fans than for your average fan of a non-participating team, as one of tonight’s starting pitchers could very well be wearing a Red Sox uniform come April.