Interleague play, love it or hate it. Either way, might as well enjoy the Cubs visiting Fenway Park for the first time since the 1918 World Series. Saturday's game will feature throwback uniforms to mark the occasion.
The Red Sox are whittling down their pitching stock, resulting in spot starts for Alfredo Aceves on Saturday and ageless knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Sunday. Big Z will face Aceves in retro-togs and Matt Garza will offer primetime contrast to Wakefield's floater on Sunday night.
Friday's match-up is a bit of a reverse, with the Cubs reaching into pitching depth they didn't even have in March and Boston sending Jon Lester, who looks every bit the ace. An interesting twist and storyline emerges when you scan your memory for background on Lester and Doug Davis. Both are cancer survivors.
The Red Sox rotation isn't the only place where injuries have lurked. Wakefield and Aceves leave holes to go along with the DL-sized spots left by Bobby Jenks and Danny Wheeler. Hideki Okajima was designated for assignment on the eve of this series.
That's five relief pitchers out of seven somehow out of the bullpen. Closer Jonathan Papelbon and set-up man Daniel Bard remain and are joined by such luminaries as Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, and the now side-arming Rich Hill. Added to the roster in time for the series were Michael Bowden (called-up from the farm) and erstwhile Rockie Franklin Morales (acquired for cash and PTBNL).
Meet the starters. Wakefield throws a slow knuckleball, too, which is lumped in with the majority.
I haven't done full break-downs on the relievers, so Albers's sinkers and fastballs aren't split. Same for Bard and Morales (who throws two breaking pitches, also not split). Hill's sinkers and heaters are split apart, but the arm angles make it look a little strange. And there may be some two-seam sinkers in the side-arm mix that are still labeled four-seam. Wtvr.
The following numbers are a rate stat (whiffs per swing, pitches in wide zone per pitches thrown, ground balls per ball in play) converted to z-scores and then the scouting scale (50+10*z). Click to sort.