By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The playoffs are now slightly more than a week away, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora is tussling with scenarios of either-or and if-when. And so on a morning after Nathan Eovaldi pitched the Red Sox to their team-record 106th victory of the season, determining the best fit for the back end of the Red Sox’ postseason rotation might not be as easy as it seems.
Especially when you crunch numbers the way the Red Sox do.
Fact: the five best offensive teams in the American League are in the postseason this year. And when you break them down by OPS vs. left-handers and right-handers, it looks like this:
Does this all mean that Cora will go with Eovaldi against New York and Eduardo Rodriguez against Oakland, as many theorize at the moment? Maybe yes, maybe. Obviously there is a great deal more to consider, including individual matchups. Eovaldi has failed to allow a run in 14 innings against the Yankees this season while Rodriguez has a 6.14 ERA; the numbers are less clear against Oakland, whom Eovaldi has not faced while Rodriguez has posted a 5.40 ERA. (That said, Rodriguez is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA against the A’s in his career.)
And then, of course, there is the matter of which pitcher would more effectively serve the Red Sox out of the bullpen, a decision that could have implications in multiple games of a series.
If this all sounds like a minor issue, it isn’t. Remember: if the series reaches a Game 4 – and it likely will – someone will be facing elimination. Many of us – me included – would go with Rodriguez in Game 4 because he’s the better overall pitcher and has been a starter for the large majority of the season, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right choice.
That said, let’s put it to the masses:
Whom would you start in Game 4?
If you had to pick today, who should pitch Game 4 of the playoffs for the Red Sox?
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) September 25, 2018