Red Sox manager Terry Francona fielded questions on Thursday at the Boston Baseball Writers' Assocation of America. And for those of you wondering about the Red Sox rotation in 2008, he answered almost every question you could have.
According to Francona, the Red Sox will begin their rotation with Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Although, Matsuzaka's wife may be having a child while the Red Sox are in Japan, so Matsuzaka may not be able to pitch in the second game of the season. I think it would be a real shame if Matsuzaka can't make the trip to Japan. It would be exceptional to see him pitch in front of his fellow countrymen who idolize him so much.
The Red Sox will play three exhibition games after they come back from Japan. Those exhibition games will allow them to use their top two starters not only in the first two games of the season, but also the third and fourth game of the season. The number three, four and five pitchers for the Red Sox will pitch in the exhibition games.
Francona also talked about the back of his rotation. Wakefield will begin the season as the team's number four starter. And Lester and Buchholz will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. Given pitching coach John Farrell's strong like of Jon Lester, I'd be surprised if he didn't start the season in the rotation. But both Lester and Buchholz do have minor innings concerns. Their total workload will likely be capped somewhere around 180 innings each.
It's good to have Clay Buchholz, considered by most to be the best pitching prospect in baseball, as a backup starter. He could likely provide some high quality replacement innings for any other pitcher in the organization who either struggles or gets injured. Even though I think it's likely that Buchholz will start the season outside of the Red Sox rotation, if he pitches anything like he did last year, I'm sure he'll find a way onto the roster.