Who’s number one?

Keep the faith, peeps! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

Well at least no one can complain about Big Papi.

One of the things that kept coming up the most last night was in regard to John Lackey.  (Which I have no argument with right now.  He did not look good at all last night.  Of course, Jon Lester looked like crap on Friday but gets the free pass from most because “It’s April” but that’s for a whole other rant.)  Now, he was bad last night.  No way to sugar coat it.  But many people wrote that he isn’t a number two starter (many 9 year-olds might disagree).  So it got me to thinking about the purpose of labeling your pitchers by the order in which they start.  I’m not really getting how this would, ultimately, be all that important to any part of the game except the pitcher’s psyche.

I know it’s a big deal to be told you’re the number one guy.  Pitching on Opening Day is a tremendous honor and a badge of pride that your manager considers you the best in the rotation.  What I don’t get is anything after that.  I mean think about it.  With scheduled days off, rainouts and rotation juggling when the team goes against another team with big guns in their rotation, the order in which pitchers are placed really seems meaningless to me.

This isn’t to criticize those who were wondering why Lackey is number two.  Because, frankly, I had it in my head up until probably Thursday that Clay Buchholz would be pitching last night (and then pitching on Opening Day at Fenway).  So I was as baffled as anyone that Terry Francona put Lackey in the two spot.  But reflecting on my own feelings is also how I come to ask the question about the importance. Aside from POSSIBLY a win last night (which I’m not prepared to state as fact given how things have gone this weekend) what would the difference have been between putting Clay on the mound Saturday and Lackey on the mound Sunday?  Especially in the opening days of the season, would it be that big a difference between Lackey losing yesterday or today?

I just think placement for specific games is more important than the “official” spot in the rotation.  Man, I don’t care if Lackey is number two or number five, I just want him to pitch well.  (The same goes for the rest of them.)  I certainly think Lester earned the nod on Friday as a sign of respect for what he accomplished last year but it doesn’t matter to me if he starts the rotation or follows someone else because, frankly, the only time being first mattered was Friday.

The next time the order of the rotation will mean anything is when the playoffs begin. I’m willing to through caution to the wind until then.

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