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Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Felix Doubront vs. R.A. Dickey 09.22.13 at 10:13 am ET
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Felix Doubront will make his first start in more than two weeks on Sunday afternoon against R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Felix Doubront

Felix Doubront

Doubront (10-6, 4.15 ERA) takes the mound for Boston for the first time since Sept. 6, after receiving time off to rest his arm.

On that day, Doubront allowed six runs on three hits and six walks at Yankee Stadium in just 3 2/3 innings. In the start before that, Doubront also lasted just 3 2/3 innings, as the White Sox pushed across four runs against the lefty at Fenway on Sept. 1.

“Mechanically, it’s a little bit off,” Doubront said after the start in New York. “I don’t know. I’ve got no words for what happened today. Just that I wasn’t able to repeat the fastball. I have to figure out something.”

On Aug. 4, Doubront shut out the Diamondbacks in seven innings and decreased his ERA to a season-low 3.56. But since then, Doubront has posted a 6.60 ERA and eclipsed four innings just twice in six starts.

With Clay Buchholz back, and John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Jon Lester looking strong, Doubront appears headed to the bullpen — if he’s on the roster at all — for the postseason.

Doubront has faced Toronto twice this season. He’s recorded a 3.97 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP in 11 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays shipped away a number of top prospects and ate some unappealing contracts this offseason so they could contend for a playoff spot this year. But with a week remaining on the season, Toronto sits in last place in the AL East at 71-83.

One of the reasons for the Blue Jays’ disappointing season is a disappointing Dickey (13-12, 4.21 ERA).

The 38-year-old was acquired by Toronto in a trade with the Mets, one year after he won the NL Cy Young award. But his Cy Young form has not carried over into the American League.

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Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview 09.20.13 at 10:33 am ET
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It’s official: the Red Sox are playoff-bound. The Sox clinched a ticket to the postseason on Thursday with a win over the Orioles. But the celebration awaits, as the Red Sox look to wrap up the division title Friday night in the opener of a three-game weekend series.

Brett Lawrie and the Blue Jays are nearing the end of a disappointing season. (AP)

Brett Lawrie and the last-place Blue Jays are nearing the end of a disappointing season. (AP)

The Sox will welcome the Blue Jays for the final home series of the regular season. They look to bounce back from a tough series against the Orioles, the only AL East team that owns a winning record against them. The Orioles took two of three from the Red Sox, handing them their first series loss since Aug. 16-18 against the Yankees. Despite that, the Sox still are playing some of their best baseball of the season this month, going 12-5 in September.

The Red Sox own the best home record in the American League at 51-27, second only to the Braves. The differences between the 2012 team and this year’s squad are obviously bountiful, but the turnaround at Fenway Park is huge. The Sox posted a .420 winning percentage in Boston last year and already are 17 wins better than the 2012 club at Fenway.

The Orioles may be the one team in the AL East that has the Red Sox’ number, going 9-6 against the Sox with three games left to play. But the Blue Jays have been relatively pesky for the Sox as well, taking seven of the 16 games in the season series thus far, including two of three the last time the two clubs met.

The Blue Jays have had a disappointing season, to say the least. After a busy offseason in which they acquired the likes of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, the Jays will finish as the only AL East club not in the mix for a playoff spot, and the only team in the division that will come in under .500. Aside from Reyes, the Jays’ acquisitions have fallen well short of expectations. However, the Blue Jays can play spoiler to the AL teams still in the race; they just took two of three from the Yankees, pushing them 3½ games back in the wild card chase, and have upcoming series with the Orioles and Rays.

The Blue Jays spent just two days above last place since April 20 and have not been out of the cellar since June 23. They surged briefly in June, pulling above .500 for a couple of games, hitting their season-high mark of two games better than .500, but slipped back to a losing record on June 28 and haven’t recovered since. They’ve been eliminated from any chance at postseason play and sealed their fate as a last-place team this season, now sitting 22 games behind the Red Sox.

But just because they’re in last place doesn’t mean they can’t do some damage. The Jays actually have one of the best offenses in the majors according to OPS, ranking fifth in the majors and fourth in the American League. They’ve got plenty of firepower, hitting 93 home runs, good for third amongst all teams. They’ve even scored the fourth-most runs in the majors. It’s their pitching that has been very, very subpar. They come in with the third-worst staff ERA amongst major league teams, better than just the Astros and the Twins.

Here are the pitching matchups for the final three Fenway games of the regular season.

Friday: Jon Lester (14-8, 3.75) vs. Esmil Rogers (5-7, 4.47)
Saturday: Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.15) vs. Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.17)
Sunday: Clay Buchholz (11-0, 1.51) vs. R.A. Dickey (13-12, 4.21)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

• Craig Breslow again came through as one of the most reliable relievers on the team Tuesday when he came into a no-out situation with runners on second and third in a tie game, set to face the heart of a tough Orioles lineup. Breslow made quick work of the three, four and five batters, using just six pitches to escape the jam. The lefty, who has shown the ability to get outs against both righties and lefties, has allowed just one run and 10 hits in his last 22 2/3 innings, good for a tiny 0.40 ERA. Though Breslow doesn’t have overwhelming stuff (he’s averaging just under five strikeouts per nine innings this season), he’s proven to be one of the go-to options in late innings.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Jon Lester vs. R.A. Dickey 04.07.13 at 8:04 am ET
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Jon Lester

The Red Sox and Blue Jays will send their aces to the mound on Sunday afternoon, with Jon Lester and R.A. Dickey each making his second start of the season.

In Lester’s first start of 2013, the Sox beat the Yankees, 8-2, on Monday. Lester gave up two runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking two over five innings. He allowed both runs during a 34-pitch fourth inning and was pulled after throwing 96 pitches (63 strikes) through the fifth.

Manager John Farrell was encouraged by Lester’s outing, which he called “a good starting point.” Lester relied mostly on his fastball and cutter on Monday and will look to get his changeup and curveball working earlier against the Jays.

Dickey struggled to control his knuckleball in his Opening Day start against the Indians, a game the Jays lost, 4-1. He walked four and gave up all four runs over six innings, although one run was unearned as it came after a passed ball by his catcher, J.P. Arencibia.

The 2012 NL Cy Young winner also struck out four, and though his lack of control hurt him, the only time the Indians really hit him hard was a home run by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth.

Dickey has made nine career starts against the Sox with a 4.09 ERA, although he hasn’t faced them since 2009. In Lester’s 22 starts against Toronto, hitters have a .235/.290/.520 line against him.

Lester has done well against most of the Jays’ current hitters. Jose Bautista‘s OBP against him is just .288, although Bautista also has hit four homers off of Lester in 52 PAs. Melky Cabrera has had the most success against the lefty, with a .375/.400/.417 line.

Shane Victorino has faced Dickey 20 times, more than twice as many as any other Boston player, and has a .263/.300/.526 line with a home run and two doubles. Pedro Ciriaco hit a triple off of Dickey in his only appearance against him.

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Hot Stove: R.A. Dickey reportedly finalizes extension with Blue Jays 12.17.12 at 12:49 pm ET
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R.A. Dickey

The Blue Jays and pitcher R.A. Dickey agreed on a two-year, $25 million extension, according to multiple reports, allowing completion of a trade that will send the 2012 National League Cy Young winner from the Mets to Toronto.

The Mets will receive highly regarded catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud., a 23-year-old who hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas before tearing a knee ligament in June, requiring season-ending surgery.

New York also reportedly will receiver Single-A right-hander Noah Syndergaard and major league catcher John Buck, while sending catcher Josh Thole to Toronto.

Dickey, 38, went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA this past season. The knuckleballer is signed for $5.25 million in 2013 but could not agree on an extension with the Mets, leading to the trade.

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Where Red Sox, Mets stand on R.A. Dickey trade chatter 12.03.12 at 9:05 pm ET
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R.A. Dickey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — According to a major league source, the Red Sox and Mets have had “very preliminary” talks regarding the availability of reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in a trade. The source said that the two teams had not discussed the specific prospects whom it would take to land Dickey, but said that — consistent with a report from ESPNBoston.com’s Joe McDonald that the Mets wanted Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. – the Mets would be aiming for that level of elite prospect in any deal involving the knuckleballer, who went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and an NL-leading 230 strikeouts in 233 2/3 innings in 2012.

However, multiple major league sources characterized the possibility of a trade of Dickey to the Sox as extremely unlikely. Indeed, a second major league source said that the Sox have had no serious internal discussions about landing the knuckleballer.

The Sox do continue to explore the market for a fifth starter. GM Ben Cherington said, in general terms rather than regarding any specific pitcher, that the team is weighing the cost in dollars of free agents vs. the possibility of trading for a more inexpensive option.

“If a team is going to move someone, especially if there’s any length of control, asking for a lot, as we would if we were talking about someone,” said Cherington. “It’s steep and I think teams, and I put us in this category, are trying to balance that vs, the free agent options. The free agent options, some of them might cost a little more money but require less talent, so we’re just trying to balance those options, and weigh those options.”

Rob Bradford contributed to this report.

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Hot Stove: Mets ‘serious’ about trading R.A. Dickey at 3:52 pm ET
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Citing sources, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted Monday that the Mets are “serious” about trading 2012 National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey and that a deal could happen as soon as this week.

Stark lists the Rangels and the Royals as the most logical fits for the knuckle-baller. Last season, the 38-year-old Dickey led the NL in games started (33) innings pitched (233 2/3) and strikeouts (230). He posted a 20-6 record for the Mets with a 2.73 ERA.

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Trade Deadline: R.A. Dickey reportedly staying with the Mets 07.21.11 at 3:21 pm ET
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R.A. Dickey

Yes, there is another knuckleballer in the major leagues, and he is actually pitching quite well.

Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey has a 3.80 ERA this season and is 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA since the start of June, leading one American League contender to put in a call to the New York front office according to a tweet from MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons.

The answer though, as Gammons notes, was of the negative variety. Dickey put together his first sub-4.00 ERA last season when he ranked seventh in the NL with a mark of 2.84 and could be on his way to such a stat this season if he can maintain his numbers of late. That performance must give the Mets enough comfort that he can continue to toss quality outings for not only the remainder of the season but beyond. Dickey is under contract for $4.25 million in 2012 and has a $5 million club option for 2013.

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