|Why Jon Lester feels he’s better heading into this postseason than last year||09.30.14 at 2:12 pm ET|
While the folks at Kauffman Stadium might have skipped an entire generation when it comes to viewing postseason baseball — finally being reintroduced to the playoffs Tuesday night in the Royals’ one-game showdown with Oakland — for Jon Lester it’s old hat.
The Wild Card play-in game will be Lester’s 14th playoff appearance, and 12th start. The lefty’s postseason ERA stands at 2.11. Last year he went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 34 2/3 innings during the Sox’ world championship run.
But of all the postseasons Lester has stormed into, he explained during a Friday phone conversation that this one will be executed as a better all-around pitcher compared to any of the other Octobers.
“I think so,” Lester told WEEI.com when asked if this was the best he’s ever pitched. “I’m just in a better place (performance-wise). I think everybody goes back to 2010 and that’s kind of supposed to be my career year. I think by far this is, in my opinion, my best year. Mentally, physically, stats-wise, all that stuff. I feel good where I’m at. I learned a lot over the years and have become more of a pitcher and not just a thrower. I feel better where everything is at. Whether that leads to a win or a loss or leads to a good or bad start, I feel like I’m in a better place mentally every time i take the mound.”
It’s hard to argue.
Lester finished his combined stints with the Red Sox and A’s pitching a career-high 219 2/3 innings, going 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA, also the best of his nine-year career.
The statistical kudos have continued to pile up: Lester is tied with Felix Hernandez for most quality starts (27), and is one of just four starters this season with a sub-2.50 ERA and 15 wins. The southpaw also possesses the second-lowest ERA in the majors since June 12 (1.80), trailing only Clayton Kershaw.
Now comes a potentially wild few months for Lester — the playoffs and free agency.
“Absolutely,” he said regarding feeling an excitement heading into the coming days. “Right now it’s more the excitement of the playoffs and once the season is done then we can start worry about free agency stuff. I’ve tried, and I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job this year, to put that on the back-burner and making sure that’s the last thing that’s a worry point for me and my family. So right now I’m taking that same approach. I have to worry about my next start. That’s what I have to focus on, and then once everything is said and done I can sit down with [agent] Seth [Levinson] and my family and we can evaluate. Then we can start getting into the excitement of free agency and all the possibilities and what-ifs and wondering what’s going to happen. That stuff will come when it’s time and when we get there, yeah, I’m sure it will be an exciting time. But right now we’re focused on trying to win and hopefully carrying that over into the postseason.”
|Source: Red Sox won’t conduct private workout for Yasmani Tomas||09.30.14 at 12:35 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox won’t be one of the teams to conduct a private workout for Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas.
The Red Sox did attend Tomas’ showcase in the Dominican Republic April 21.
According to the source, the team is intrigued by the 23-year-old’s power potential, which current Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo compared to that of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu talking about Tomas with WEEI.com. (Click here to read all of Castillo’s comments regarding Tomas.)
But due to the excess of outfielders, along with some concern over Tomas’ strikeout rate while playing in/for Cuba, the Red Sox don’t appear to motivated to engage in an aggressive bid for the free agent corner outfielder.
The Red Sox did hold a private workout for Castillo prior to signing the outfielder to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal.
For a complete scouting report on Tomas from MLB Trade Rumors, click here.
|Poll: What did you think of the Derek Jeter ceremony?||09.28.14 at 10:31 pm ET|
It was the season of the selfie.
‘ Joseph Kelly Jr. (@JosephKellyJr) September 29, 2014
Yet, as well-executed as Kelly’s photo turned out, his wife’s tweet after the moment may have been even more impressive.
Perhaps the real highlight of the ceremony, however, was the introduction of former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates, who is battling ALS and served as the impetus for the ice bucket challenge, helping raise awareness to combat the disease.
Here is the more from the ceremony.
|Clay Buchholz aiming to be Derek Jeter’s last pitcher||09.27.14 at 6:52 pm ET|
For Clay Buchholz, the scenario is a dream.
He was the kid from Texas who grew up with that poster on his wall of his baseball idol, the one of the guy the young shortstop-turned-pitcher fashioned his baseball world around. And now — one week from Sunday — Buchholz will get the opportunity to become the last pitcher Derek Jeter ever faces.
“It’s a game you try and go as deep as you can to be that last pitcher that he faces. I’ve definitely thought about that,” Buchholz said. “You have to take care of everybody else before you get to that point. There is going to be a lot of stuff going on. It’s something that’s pretty neat to think about.”
When Buchholz first stared down Jeter — resulting in the shortstop claiming an infield single during an April 16, 2008 game at Yankee Stadium — such a moment seemed implausible for the young pitcher. (“I was definitely nervous. There were definitely some nerves going on,” he said.)
“He was a guy I idolized growing up, playing shortstop,” added the Red Sox starter, who has faced Jeter 32 times, limiting him to a .276 batting average without any homers. “It was pretty neat being in that stadium and pitching against the Yankees for the first time in your career.
“It was just him. I grew up and there were Yankees hats everywhere. Boston and Yankees. Everybody was either wearing a Boston hat or a Yankees hat where I grew up. He was the guy I watched the most. I liked the way he played the game.”
Getting to Jeter’s final at-bat will be a feat. Other pitchers have such acts in similarly monumental moments and come up short. (Surely, Cleveland starter Bud Anderson wanted to be that guy in Carl Yastrzemski’s last game on Oct. 2, 1983, but instead that fell on reliever Dan Spillner.)
Still, Buchholz is grateful for the opportunity to give it a whirl.
“It’s a game to me that’s a little bit different in a couple of different ways. But at the same time, it’s still baseball. I have to go out and execute pitches and try to get outs,” the pitcher said.
“Things are going to be magnified by a pretty good amount. I’m sure I’ll have to do a couple of sit-downs about it. I’m sort of looking forward to it, actually.”
|Even after heroics, Derek Jeter vows to play at Fenway Park||09.25.14 at 11:49 pm ET|
When asked to describe what he saw unfold in New York Thursday night, David Ortiz simply said, “Perfection.”
Derek Jeter punctuated his Yankee Stadium career in unbelievable fashion, singling in the game-winning run to hand the Yankees a 6-5, walkoff win over the Orioles Thursday night. Making the moment even more incredible was that the only reason Jeter had the opportunity to claim his opposite field, RBI single was because Baltimore claimed two home runs in the ninth off Yankees closer David Robertson, eliminating a three-run New York lead.
“Wow. That’s him. Perfect,” Ortiz said. “I would say the Yankees fans this year, they’re not going to go to the playoffs, but that was like a playoff game right there when you end up winning it. It was unbelievable.”
After the game, in an interview with MLB Network, Jeter said that he would play during the Yankees three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend “in some capacity,” but not while playing shortstop.
“I think he should, and he will,” said Ortiz when asked about Jeter playing. “Even one at-bat. I know that he probably will be thinking about leaving it right there. But he’s a guy who knows what he does very well. Everybody is expecting him to get an at-bat or play in a game, or whatever.”
|Why you should have cared about Thursday’s Red Sox game: Rusney Castillo went next level||09.25.14 at 10:26 pm ET|
Since Rusney Castillo arrived with the Red Sox, the reviews have been mixed.
The outfielder has shown an ability to go get the ball in the outfield, while taking to coaching like the Red Sox would hope he would. He showed hints of pop, particularly to right field. Conversely, Castillo’s much-publicized speed has come under some scrutiny, possessing a pedestrian time of 4.4 seconds down the first line (due in part to an aggressive hitting follow-through).
It all added up to four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) with one run and a single RBI (claimed on a bases-loaded walk).
Thursday night, however, Castillo went next-level.
The rookie play a key role in the Red Sox’ blowout, 11-1 win over the Rays at Fenway Park, launching his first big league homer — clearing the left field wall with at three-run blast off a 92 mph fastball from Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson. He also just missed a second by a few feet, having to settle for a seventh-inning double.
“I have been feeling more comfortable,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I’m feeling closer towhere I want to be, so it’s like anything else, with some more time and somemore repetitions you get to feel a little bit more comfortable and confident. But yeah, I feel like I’m on my way there.”
With catcher Christian Vazquez hitting a second-inning homer over the left field wall, and Garin Cecchini sending a fly ball over the right field fence Wednesday night, the Red Sox have had three rookies hit their first major league homers in the past two nights.
Like Castillo, Vazquez’ night wasn’t just limited to a home run. The backstop went 4-for-4 with three RBI. Also pitching in for the offense was fellow rookie Bryce Brentz (2-for-4).
Also of note was Allen Webster’s outing. The righty starter turned in yet another solid performance, this time allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one while throwing a season-high 99 pitches.
In his last three starts, Webster — who has implemented his four-seam fastball a bit more of late — has allowed four runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking three.
“Much like we talked about with [Anthony] Ranaudo last night, the final start of the year with some increased confidence going into the offseason and even furthermore, with Webby, just some momentum as he finishes things out this year,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
|David Ortiz likely to sit out remaining games||09.25.14 at 8:19 pm ET|
With three games to play — and little on the line – the Red Sox are playing it safe.
Mike Napoli (toe, finger, back) and Brock Holt (concussion) are, according to Red Sox manger John Farrell, not likely to see game action the rest of the way. And now David Ortiz figures to be joining the duo on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
The designated hitter has felt soreness in his left wrist after aggravating it during Tuesday night’s game. And with it being the same wrist he missed 45 games in ’08 because of having partially torn a tendon sheath, the Sox and their designated hitter aren’t taking any chances.
After the Red Sox‘ 11-1 win over Tampa Bay, Ortiz suggested he had played his last game this season.
“I’m not feeling like ‘¦ My hand is just not what I would like it to be,” Ortiz said. “The doctor already told me the other day, let’s take it day by day, but what you’ve got will probably take one or two weeks to go back to normal, and that was two days ago.”
As for the similarities between this sensation and the one he endured in ’08, Ortiz noted there were enough to allow for a conservative approach.
“The doctor said I just need to rest so I can get some of that inflammation out of there. But it’s not anything crazy,” he noted. “From what I heard it’s not something I’m super concerned about.”
When comparing this ailment to the one six seasons ago, Ortiz added, “It’s different. I think what happened to me now, it happened to me in ‘08 and I never really paid attention to it and all of a sudden my tendon just snapped back then. I’ve been sore the last couple of weeks but it wasn’t really bothering me to swing the bat until the other night and that’s when I started getting concerned about it. … I’m not as stupid as I used to be. I’m older to understand things better now.”
Ortiz is currently sitting at 35 home runs with an .873 OPS, ninth best in the American League.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Matt Huegel
- Sox have seventh pick in draft
- Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Chris Hatfield
- SoxProspects.com 2014 season-end award winners
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #64: Playing Out the Stretch
- Weekly Notes: Prospects flock to Boston
- 2014 SoxProspects.com All-Stars
- 2014 Fall Instructional League rosters and schedule
- Cup of Coffee: PawSox fall late in Gildan Championship Game
- The Write-Up: Rusney Castillo