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Both starting pitchers will enter Wednesday fully rested and ready to compete in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. Josh Beckett and John Lackey have never faced each other. Both have had Cy Young worthy seasons and are the clear aces of this series.
Josh Beckett has gone 2-2 with a 2.11 ERA in six appearances in the playoffs. All in his one and only playoff run with the Florida Marlins.
Beckett told the Red Sox’s official Web site,
“There’s nothing like pitching in the playoffs and being a part of that, and contributing and trying to help a team win a world championship…It’s the ultimate goal.”
John Lackey has appeared eight times in the playoffs and is 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA. He has only allowed one homerun in his 38.2 IP.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had to say of Lackey,
“You’re not always going to have the sun shining on you. There’s a certain mind-set, and John has it. He wants to be that guy you can count on.”
There are bad points to look at for Lackey as well as many good. Any hope is good when going against a CY Young hopeful. In Lackey’s last five post-season starts he has averaged less than 5.1 innings pitched a game. And in those starts he averages 2.8 walks a game, much higher than this years 1.6. His last start was in the 2005 ALCS against the Chicago White Sox where he went 5 IP and gave up 5 ER. Small signs the playoff pressure gets to Lackey.
That is playoff John Lackey, now vs. Boston Lackey. Lackey has had a very bad career against Boston. He hasn’t had a good year against them since 2002, his first start ever against Boston in his rookie season. Every year since 2002 Lackey has had a 1.83 WHIP against Boston or higher. As a result a lot of Red Sox players have hit him well.
On the other foot Beckett has had good success against the Angels in his career. He is 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 22 K’s in 25 IP. And most players on the Angels have not had good success against Beckett. Six Angels have 10 AB or more against Beckett and here are they’re lines.
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The top three on the list have also been the Angels best hitters. This year the other bests on their team are Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick, Casey Kotchman, Kendry Morales,, and Reggie Willits. All of whom are hitting over .292 on the year.
The guys to most worry about are Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick in my opinion. Figgins is hitting .330 and has 41 SB. Post All-Star break he’s hit .361. Howie Kendrick is hitting .322 and Post All-Star break he’s hitting .357. Kendrick’s known to hit about anything thrown over the plate. Like Vlad he will be scary no matter what. Vlad doesn’t enter this list because Beckett has handled him and there is a lot bigger book for Vlad then Kendrick.
I’d give the edge to Boston in Game 1.
Baseball being baseball and this being the playoffs, I expect an amazing and close game.
Prediction: Boston 5-3 over the Angels