This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Before every series this season, I hope to analyze the Red Sox and their opposition. This may not occur before every series, but it is my goal!
April 9 – Tim Wakefield vs. Kyle Davies
Old Man Wakefield takes the mound for the first time in his 16th season as a member of the Boston Red Sox. His second to last start of the 2009 season came against the Royals in their park, and resulted in a 12-9 Royals victory where Wake gave up 5 runs(4ER) in 5 innings.
Yuniesky Bentancourt has 5 hits against Wake and the only home run by any current Royal. Josh Fields has a few hits off Wake and Alex Gordon is 2nd on the team with 4 hits.. thankfully both of these guys are on the DL. Fans might see Willie Bloomquist at some point in this game, as he has 2 hits and 3 walks against Wakefield in 6 at bats.
Wakefield was lit up in 2009 in his only start at Kauffman Stadium, but in 2008 he threw 6 innings of 2 run ball(1ER) in his only start there since 2004.
Wakefield is 17 wins away from tying Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the most wins all-time by a Red Sox. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe points out that Wakefield will become the oldest pitcher in history to start a game for the Boston Red Sox.
Marco Scutaro has the best success of all Red Sox players against the Royals starter, with 2 home runs in 9 at bats. Victor Martinez has faced Davies the most, and has 4 hits in 12 at bats. Jeremy Hermida is the third player with a home run off Davies, so it’s possible he might find his way into the game as well!
April 10 – Josh Beckett vs. Zach Greinke
Coming off a Cy Young season, Greinke picked up the 2010 season where 2009 left off, throwing 6 innings of 1 run ball against the Detroit Tigers on April 5th. He goes against the recently extended Josh Beckett, who is coming off a subpar performance against the New York Yankees.
Scott Podsednik leads the Royal in hitting against Josh Beckett, with 5 hits in 10 at bats. In 2009, Podsednik ripped two hits off Beckett. To minimize any damage, Beckett should keep the speedster off the basepaths.
Surprisingly, Greinke does not dominate a lot of the hitters in the Red Sox lineup. Victor Martinez and Marco Scutaro have the most experience against the reigning Cy Young Award winner, and both had successful at bats against him in 2009.
Mike Lowell rapped 3 hits in 4 at bats against Greinke in 2007, and David Ortiz has struggled in his matchups against him. Mike Lowell could finally get a few at bats in a game if the situation presents itself.
April 11th – Clay Buchholz vs. Gil Meche
Clay Buchholz makes his 2010 debut in the series finale with the Kansas City Royals. It’s unclear what will happen in the 5th starter role when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns(if?) from the disabled list, but it will likely come down to Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.
The most successful Royals hitter against Buchholz, Alex Gordon, is on the disabled list, and the next best player is Scott Podsednik with 2 hits in 3 at bats. Mitch Maier has 2 hits in 6 at bats against Buchholz, getting on base in both games he faced him.
Two thirds of the Red Sox every day lineup has solid numbers against the Royals starter, and David Ortiz leads the hit parade with 4 home runs off Gil Meche. Victor Martinez has faced Meche the most(41 ABs), but has struggled with only 10 hits in those at bats. Tug Hulett has one hit in three at bats against Meche, so if Meche goes late in the ballgame there might be an opportunity for the bench player to get an at bat.
Series Prediction: The matchups favor the Red Sox in the bookends of this series, but you can never tell which Tim Wakefield will show up. My bet is the Good Tim Wakefield will show up, as is his style to start off every season strong. That being said, the Red Sox will likely take 2 of 3 in this series against the Royals, losing the middle game in a low scoring matchup between two great pitchers.