Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield - AP Photo

We’re trying something new… Each Monday, fellow Red Sox bloggers Matt (Fenway West) and Rob (The Bottom Line) will discuss the upcoming matchups for the Sox. You’ll get three different opinions on the key topics for the week and we want you to join the discussion too. Leave your thoughts in the comments and tell us what you think of this new feature.

The Week Ahead

April 26, 27, 28 @ Toronto Blue Jays
April 28 – Off Day
April 29, 30, May 1 @ Baltimore Orioles

1. Vernon Wells is carrying the Blue Jays offense on his back right. He leads the team with a .344 BA, 7 HRs and 13 RBI. He hits Josh Beckett well: 10 for 33 (.303) with 5 HRs, but had not fared well against Buchholz (2 for 12, .167) or Lester (4 for 18, .222). In other sports, coached often try to take the top performer out of the equation and make the other guys beat you… could that work for the Sox this week (i.e. don’t give him anything to hit)?

S&D: One man doesn’t make the team. Yes he’s off to a hot start but what’s to say that doesn’t change against Red Sox pitching. You have to pitch to him. Why put him on base with the ineptitude of our catchers to throw runners out. One less runner on base is one less stolen base.

FW: I think the Red Sox still need to pitch to Wells. Walking anyone is as good as a triple with the way Martinez has been going.

2. We’re likely to see who young lefties in Toronto in Dan Eveland and Brett Cecil. David Ortiz did not play again on Saturday night with another young lefty in Brian Matusz. Matusz probably has better stuff that the other guys, and Eveland has horrible numbers against the Sox (0-2, 17.36 ERA). He also owns a career BAA of .299 when facing lefty hitters. Cecil isn’t any better: 0-2, 12.00 ERA vs BOS and .281 BAA vs lefties. Both guys have pitched well so far this year, but should Lowell continue to get the start over Ortiz at DH in these games… or are these guys mediocre enough to give Big Papi another shot?

S&D: Let’s go to the numbers. Ortiz is 1-for-5 against Cecil with one home run and two RBIs while Lowell is 2-for-5 with a home run and 2 RBIs. Ortiz is 2-for-6 with a double and a walk against Eveland while Lowell is 4-for-5 with a 2 RBIs. I think I give Ortiz a shot against Cecil especially given the fact that he batted against Mark Hendrickson on Sunday and had a double. I would definitely have Lowell in the lineup against Eveland.

FW: I think Francona is now committed to a platoon situation at the DH and Ortiz will sit when a lefty is on the mound. Once Ortiz starts hitting well against RHP’s then Tito might rethink this, he has already made the move so I don’t see why he would go back to a situation that was not working.

3. Josh Beckett has been inconsistent so far the year and Jon Lester has been just plain bad. Lester had a solid outing his last time out, blanking the O’s through 5 2/3 IP, but he needed 113 pitches, walked 4 and couldn’t close out the 6th. He’s 4-3, with a 3.03 ERA and .202 BAA in 9 starts against the Blue Jays and will get his last start in April this Wednesday… is the worst behind him? Given his career numbers in the months of April and May, I don’t think his worst is behind him per say. I think as the month of May goes on, he’ll continue to get better but I expect to see a few rough outings along the way.

Beckett will get the nod on Monday. He seemed to be turning a corner after a rough Opening Night against the Yanks, but imploded against the Rangers for 7 runs on 7 hits, 1 HR and 5 walks. He’s a modest 3-5 with a 6.62 ERA in 12 starts against the Jays… which Beckett are you expecting on Monday: The guys who blanked the Rays and fanned 8 or the guy who coughed up 7 runs to the Rangers?

S&D: I think every time Beckett takes the mound, I’m expecting Commander Kickass Beckett. Honestly though, if he can go out and give the Red Sox a quality start I’d be happy right now.

FW: Lester always seems to be a slow starter and Beckett had stretches where he did not pitch well last season. Both of these guys are much better pitchers than they have been and should look more like aces this week. I am expecting Beckett to have his best start of the season on Monday. There is nobody on the team that will be more focused when the game begins. I wouldn’t want to facing Beckett if I were on the Jays, he’s going to make them pay.

4. Who do you guys think will be the MVP of the upcoming week?

TBL: I’m going with Youk… he seems to be coming out of the mini-slump he’s been in since week 1, with a few doubles and a big homer on Saturday. He’s a .261 career hitter against TOR, but he crushed them in 2009 with a .339 BA, 5 doubles, 5 ding dongs and 12 RBI. Then he gets the O’s again on the weekend… he was even better against them, hitting .394 with 6 HRs and 17 RBI in 2009 (and .424, 4 HR, 11 RBI in 9 games at Camden Yards).

S&D: I think Dustin Pedroia will be the MVP of the week. Since moving back into the two hole, he’s been the Pedey we all know and love.

FW: I am going to go with Beltre. He is starting to make some great plays in the field and the power numbers are going to come. He has yet to hit one out and is beyond due.

5. Matsuzaka makes his MLB debut against the O’s later this week. Make your prediction…

TBL: I say 5.0 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 3 BB and the win thanks to the bullpen.

S&D: I think Matsuzaka surprises us all and goes 7 innings, 2 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk with 7 strikeouts. Gets the win.

Make your prediction for Dice-K’s return to the Sox, tell us how you think the Sox should handle the Ortiz situation, or simply chime in with any thoughts you have about The Week Ahead. See you in the comments section!