Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series over Josh Beckett (assuming the Red Sox clinch the AL wild card), the Globe's Tony Massarotti has confirmed. The Boston Herald first reported Lester's start this morning.
Part of the reason the Red Sox chose Lester, an industry source told Massarotti, is because they feel more comfortable with his ability to bounce back on three days' rest if necessary. The "if necessary," in this case, means if projected Game 4 starter Daisuke Matsuzaka suffers a physical setback and cannot pitch.
Lester has been perhaps the best pitcher in the major leagues since June, going 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA. Beckett, meanwhile, is 2-2 with a 5.90 ERA in his last eight starts. Beckett has also struggled pitching on four days' rest, let alone three, as opposed to five days' rest this season.
The pitching rotation for the end of the season sets up perfectly for Lester to pitch Game 1 and Beckett to pitch Game 2. Game 1 of the ALDS, assuming the Yankees choose the series that begins Wednesday, will be Thursday Oct. 8, and Game 2 will be the following night. Lester would have six days of rest, and Beckett would have five.