Boston Red Sox Ready to Move Up in the AL East with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester

Christopher WoodleyContributor IIIMay 25, 2012

Josh Beckett
Josh BeckettRich Schultz/Getty Images

It's odd to look at the American League East standings and see the Boston Red Sox in last place. It's only late May, but this is a position most Red Sox fans did not expect to be in going into the season.

Boston has not finished last in the AL East since 1992, and the Red Sox should be able to stay out of the cellar with their pitching.

Neither Josh Beckett (4-4) nor Jon Lester (3-3) has a spectacular record so far this season, but both men appear to have returned to their old form in recent starts.

Let's start with Beckett. After his controversial golf outing and subsequent poor start against Cleveland, Beckett has been dominant. After allowing seven runs in 2.1 innings to the Indians on May 10, Beckett tossed seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts against Seattle. On Sunday, he limited Philadelphia to one run over 7.2 innings in a win over the Phillies.

If Beckett can continue to just pitch and not rant about only having 18 vacation days a year, he should provide the Red Sox with anywhere from 12 to 17 wins.

Lester was 1-3 after his first seven starts; however, he has won his last two outings. This included limiting Seattle to one run on eight hits in a complete game victory on May 14. He will take the Fenway Park mound Friday against Tampa Bay

Red Sox fans are also happy that Lester has apparently solved his early season control problems. In his first 24 innings, Lester walked 13 batters, but he's only walked five in his last 26 innings.

If Clay Buchholz can lower his 7.84 ERA, and Alfredo Aceves maintain his role as the closer, the Red Sox will quickly climb in the AL East standings.