The designation of Chris Tillman as Opening Day starter for the Baltimore Orioles shows the Red Sox what they’re up against. This guy has the Red Sox’ number. He’s good for seven shutout innings anytime he faces the Boston line-up.
The answer is Clay Buchholz. Buchholz will match zeroes with anyone, even the fortified Orioles in Camden Yards. His recent work in Spring Training shows that he is the best prepared pitcher in the rotation coming out of the gate. He has already built up to four innings and should be good for five shutout innings on Day One.
After the fifth inning, the Sox will need to rely on a stalwart bullpen to keep the Orioles in check until someone squeezes a run home. Prediction: Grady Sizemore will score the winning run.
Jon Lester dominated for four innings in his last start. The problem was he pitched five innings. He was nicked for a run in the first. Lester always has problems in the first two innings, and that is where the Orioles can hurt him on Opening Day. The one or two runs they can plate quickly could be the difference in a low-scoring game.
So Buchholz. We don’t know how many innings he’s good for in 2014, but let’s give him the first five or six.