Wednesday, October 24, 2007
First off, the easy one is Josh Beckett. If he is on, Beckett should dominate seven out of the nine Rockies hitters. Other than the H&H Bagel Boys (“no bagel, no bagel, no bagel”), the Colorado hitters are average to poor on the road this year. Holliday is a tough out, but susceptible to hard stuff inside like most hitters. Helton has the ability and tendency to take the ball the other way off the Monster a la the chicken eating, womanizing, beer pounding and HOFer, but he likely won’t take a good pitch yard at Fenway. Away from Denver, this is not a challenging lineup. Atkins and Tulowitzki both had 327 OBPs on the road. Atkins slugged 446 and Tulowitzki was under 400. They are not big threats. Plus, both have trouble with sliders from RHP, like Timlin, curveball and changes from LHP like Okajima. The Sox should be able to control most the Rockies at Fenway.
As for the other starter, the more I read about Jeff Francis - the more I think Tom Glavine with a curveball. Neither has a plus pitch. Both have good command, but walk batters to work around when necessary. They live on the outer half of the plate. With that being said, the Sox should look to drive the ball back up the middle. Trying to pull the ball on the outer half of the plate (Mike Lowell and DP) will lead to 6-3’s on the score card. Anyway, if Francis gets his curve over consistently and/or he gets a lot of strike calls on the outer half, we are in for a pitchers duel.
At the end of the game, the Rockies added Franklin Morales. He should give them a left-handed power arm to pair with Manny Corpas. Both are young strikeout pitchers with average control. The pair’s usage will be interesting. If Hurdle sticks with conventional usage, it will be to his team’s disadvantage.
Corpas should pitch in more than ninth inning save opportunities and Morales should set him up rather than be the long-man. Brian Fuentes should also see late inning action. He is a side-arming southpaw that throws a slider to LHB and a change to RHB. Many of the Sox RHB hit the changeup well so expect to see Fuentes against Ortiz, Drew and Ellsbury. (Tito should consider Kielty hitting for Drew as he only hits sliders from southpaws at 111 and has the tendency to chase pitches like Fuentes’ slider that move down and away from him.) Hurdle has some weapons in the pen, but he may stick to “what got him here” which includes A.L. castoffs Hawkins, Julio, Affeldt and that would be good news for the Sox.