At first glance, it may not seem as though the Boston Red Sox would be the best matchup for the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only did the Red Sox have the best record in the American League, but they took twelve of the nineteen games in their head to head meetings this year. Yet, getting to face the Red Sox may be the draw for the Rays in the ALDS.
The Red Sox have set their rotation up where Jon Lester and John Lackey are scheduled to the the top two starters this series, meaning that the Rays should get three matchups against these pitchers. Although Lackey has come back strongly after what was essentially three lost seasons in Boston and Lester can show flashes of being one of the top pitchers in the league, the Rays have been able to do damage against both pitchers this season.
Against Lackey, the Rays have produced a .388/.423/.592 batting line with two home runs and nine runs over 10 innings. That barrage has led to an ERA of 8.10 against Tampa, as the Rays have averaged over two baserunners an inning against the righty.
Tampa has also had success against Lester. Despite going 2-1 against the Rays this season, they still hit him at a solid .280/.339/.490 rate. The Rays had just under a baserunner and a half per inning against Lester, good enough to saddle Lester with a 4.32 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Rays are sending Matt Moore out for the first game of the series. Moore has dominated Boston this year, holding the Red Sox to a .102/.170/.204 batting line in 15 innings. In that time, he has held the Red Sox to ten total bases as he held the Sox to three runs and a grand total of five hits. Five. Game Two starter David Price has also dominated the Sox this year. Ignore the 2-2 record; he has held Boston to a .167/.186/.289 slash line, resulting in a 2.48 ERA.
Although the Rays had to play the equivalent of three playoff games in three different cities before getting to face the Red Sox, they could be in solid shape. If the pitching matchups are any indication, the Rays may have an advantage in the ALDS.