Lester has been in a funk his last three starts, going 0-3 with a 10.54 ERA.
In one sense, the lefty's latest rough outing could work to his advantage. Lester threw just 55 pitches on Saturday against the Yankees, which would lessen the burden of going on three days' rest for the second time in his career.
One interesting scenario: If the Red Sox lead by one game going into Wednesday, does Francona roll the dice that he can win with somebody else and save Lester for a potential Game 1 of the American League Division Series, or even a winner-take-all Game No. 163 against the Rays?
"There's not a lot of scenarios where Lester doesn't pitch [Wednesday]," Francona said. "I take that back. There's not a whole lot of reason to think it through too much [right now]. We just need to win. It will figure itself out."
Entering Monday's game against the Orioles, the Red Sox led the Rays by one game in the AL Wild Card standings.