Much improved over last year, the Red Sox rotation begins with left-hander Jon Lester, who was 15-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 213 1-3 innings this season. He went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three playoff starts and has a 2.49 ERA in 11 career postseason games. Behind him is Clay Buchholz, along with veterans John Lackey and Jake Peavy. Lackey rebounded nicely from Tommy John surgery this year and won both his playoff starts, beating Justin Verlander 1-0 in Game 3 of the ALCS. Back when he was a rookie in 2002, the right-hander won Game 7 of the World Series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA during an injury-interrupted season. Peavy struggled in two playoff starts, compiling an 8.31 ERA. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a July trade. This is his first World Series.
The closer is another hard-throwing rookie, Trevor Rosenthal. Flashing a 100 mph fastball, he has excelled since assuming the ninth-inning role late in the season after Edward Mujica faded. Rosenthal has three saves and nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings this postseason. New setup man Carlos Martinez, right-hander Seth Maness and lefty Kevin Siegrist all have good stuff. Right-hander John Axford and lefty specialist Randy Choate provide plenty of depth and experience.
Koji Uehara has been a lights-out savior as the surprise closer in his first season with Boston since signing a $4.25 million, one-year contract that turned into quite a bargain. The 38-year-old right-hander only inherited the job when former All-Stars Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were injured. After a phenomenal regular season, Uehara gave up a game-winning homer against Tampa Bay in the division series but took home the ALCS MVP award against Detroit. He is 1-1 with five saves, 13 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in nine innings this postseason. Steady setup man Junichi Tazawa did a great job neutralizing Miguel Cabrera in the ALCS, and lefty Craig Breslow is much more than a big brain from Yale. He had a 1.81 ERA this year and tossed seven shutout innings in the playoffs. Brandon Workman along with regular starters Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront round out a unit that's been a dominant strength in October.