BOSTON -- With the American League East title in hand, the Red Sox rested Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Carp for Saturday night's game against the Blue Jays.
Manager John Farrell said he's not downplaying the importance of home-field advantage in the playoffs, but the Red Sox entered Saturday with a 94-61 record, providing enough of a cushion between them and the Oakland A's, who had the second-best record in the AL at 91-63.
The Red Sox still want to win, but they're being smart about providing rest when necessary. Pedroia had played in 154 of the team's 155 games before Saturday. Saltalamacchia had caught 974 innings behind the plate.
"We do have a number of things we have to balance in that, and that's some individual things we have to manage with some guys," Farrell said. "But I think it's pretty clear in the minds of all here that maintaining the best record would be key."
Farrell said he'll also rest key members of the bullpen who have been used frequently throughout the season. Farrell wouldn't say who, but Koji Uehara (71 1/3 innings), Craig Breslow (56 2/3 innings) and Junichi Tazawa (67 innings) are prime candidates to receive consecutive off-days.
"This is where Ryan Dempster going to the bullpen will help out in that regard," Farrell said.
John Lackey will head to the bullpen for Tuesday's game against the Rockies and should pitch one inning of relief to stay fresh before one final regular-season start against the Orioles.
Boston will also monitor pitch counts on its starters. Jon Lester, who threw 123 pitches in his seven innings on Friday, shouldn't be reaching a pitch count close to that number in his final start.
"Unlikely," Farrell said. "He's going to have plenty of rest."