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Boston Red Sox's Starting Rotation in the Playoffs?

Talk of Playoff Rotation in Early August a Bit Premature

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Would it be Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz? Or would Jon Lester take the spot of one of these four pitchers come the AL playoffs?

On August 9, this is the topic of the day for media that cover all things Boston Red Sox.

A better question might be: Why are these media assuming that the Red Sox will even be in the playoffs? With 45 games yet to be played (that's 28% of the total regular season), being so sure of a playoff spot is cockamamie to say the least.

Yes, the Red Sox are the AL East leaders, by 2 games over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics are the other division leaders. However, like the AL East (the Tampa Bays Rays are 2 games back of Boston, and the Baltimore Orioles are 5.5 games behind Boston), other teams are within striking distance of taking the divisional lead (the Texas Rangers' winning percentage is only .001 behind Oakland).

In addition, the American League wild-card playoff game could realistically feature not only one of the three current divisional leaders, but also any one of six other teams still in the mix (Tampa Bay, Baltimore, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers).

Not only is a playoff spot not assured, but the health of the Boston Red Sox's starting rotation can also not be taken for granted. Clay Buchholz last pitched on June 8. When he might return is not set in stone. Newly acquired starter Jake Peavy came off the DL three weeks ago. Jon Lester has been Jekyll and Hyde since April 1. Realistically, only John Lackey and Felix Doubront have been consistent starters this season.

The myriad questions that need to be answered for these remaining 45 games come long before any discussion of who the potential starting rotation pitchers might be in the playoffs. These following questions are just a small sample that Red Sox fans need addressed by media in early August, with 52 days remaining in the season:

1.) How will the Red Sox stave off their division foes?

2.) Will every starting player remain healthy?

3.) If not, who are their backups?

3.) Will any of the starting players go into extended slumps?

4.) Will there ever be a third-base replacement that is better than Brock Holt?

5.) Will Mike Napoli continue to leave unacceptable numbers of players on base?

6.) Will Mike Napoli strike out more than 200 times?

7.) Will teams begin to steal bases at will against Boston's defensively underperforming catchers, a la Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend?

Patrick Bernier is a freelance writer who has been following the Boston Red Sox for 25 years.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickBern7.

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