There is still ample time for things to change, but because the New York Yankees are leaning toward a Wednesday start in their first-round playoff series next week, the Red Sox will likely open the postseason next Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels.
According to a major league source a short time ago, the Yankees are favoring playoff scenario `A’ at the moment, though the club does not have to formally announce its intentions until one hour after either the Detroit Tigers or Minnesota Twins clinch the American League Central championship. In scenario `A,’ the Yankees would begin playing on Wednesday with a day off between Games 1 and 2, meaning the Yankees would need only three starters in the first round.
In that scenario, of course, the Yankees would introduce the possibility that Detroit could use right-hander Justin Verlander in Games 1 and 4. If the Yankees were to elect scenario `B,’ in which there is no day off between Games 1 and 2,Verlander would only be able to pitch Games 1 and 5 if he remained on normal rest.
For the Red Sox, scenario `B’ similarly would suggest a need for four starters, though part of the reason the Red Sox have lined up Jon Lester for Game 1 is because he could come back on short rest more easily than Josh Beckett if there were a need to pitch on short rest. Lester could pitch Game 1 on Thursday and then come back to pitch Game 4 on three days of rest, allowing Beckett to pitch Games 2 and 5 on full rest (or more).
Regardless of which scenario the Yankees choose, the Red Sox will not be affected with regard to Games 1 and 2. Because Lester is scheduled to pitch tomorrow night, he would start Game 1 on extra rest regardless of whether the series were to start on Wednesday (in which case Lester would start on five days of rest) or Thursday (six days). In either case, Beckett, whose next turn is scheduled for Saturday, will start Game 2 on five days of rest.