Without delving into a long, analytical post (only one of those a weekend, thanks), the Red Sox have some tough choices to make when it comes to the pitching staff and the postseason (outlined in a nifty Globe slideshow here).
Who do you want to see on the bump for the Sox come October? And how closely does that gell with what you actually think you'll see? (My thoughts after the jump).
Even assuming 12 pitchers, this gets tough. I count nine no-brainers, either because they got the Sox this far or because the Sox have too much invested to get rid of them now (OK, that really only applies to Gagne):
So that's three spots for the likes of:
You pretty much have to take Lester, who's been very good of late, better than either Matsuzaka or Wakefield. Do you take Buchholz? The fans would scream bloody murder if you didn't, but high-stress playoff innings and their effect on a young arm may have the Sox brass thinking Tavarez instead. On the other hand, if Gagne and Okajima aren't any better, Buchholz seems the best bet to bridge the Delcarmen-Papelbon gap, whereas Lester or Wakefield could fill the Tavarez role in a short series.
Javier Lopez has gotten some big outs and is a lefty, but the Sox should leave his .296 BA against lefties at home and give Bryan Corey a well-deserved shot for some playoff cred. Besides, that would be a great story.