Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/1/14
Mlb-athletics-red-sox-jul
Jon Lester is Boston’s Opening Day starter, and he’s the pitching staff’s incumbent leader. Clay Buchholz looks equally as motivated, though, and the Red Sox really couldn’t have asked for much more out of the duo this spring. A day after Lester closed the book on his spring with another solid outing, Buchholz capped off his impressive preseason with four scoreless innings against the Twins. Buchholz walks away from this year’s Grapefruit League slate with a 0.79 ERA (two runs in 22 2/3 innings), 0.79 WHIP and .152 batting average against. Buchholz looks focused, confident, healthy and poised to rebound in 2013, which should bode well for the Red Sox, who have received tremendous pitching since the start of camp. What’s amazing is that as impressive as Buchholz’s spring numbers are, Lester’s are even better. Lester finished his spring with a 0.75 ERA (two runs in 24 innings), 0.50 WHIP and .101 batting average against. His ERA is tops among pitchers with at least 15 innings, while Buchholz’s minuscule figure ranks second. That’s the definition of a two-headed monster, and such effectiveness tends to have a trickle-down effect throughout the rest of the rotation. It’s certainly been the case this spring, with Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and even John Lackey — who is returning after Tommy John surgery — looking sharp. Entering Thursday, Boston’s starters led the majors with a 2.91 ERA (35 runs in 108 1/3 innings). The next best mark came from the Justin Verlander-led Tigers’ rotation, which posted a 3.46 mark. Red Sox starters also lead the majors this spring in opponent average and WHIP. Boston’s bullpen has been great as well. After Buchholz departed on Thursday, four others – Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Alfredo Aceves and Jeremy Kehrt — turned in solid efforts in a 6-1 win over the Twins. Prior to Thursday’s victory, the Red Sox’ entire pitching staff ranked first in the majors in ERA (3.98), WHIP (1.27), opponent average (.246), opponent on-base percentage (.311) and opponent OPS (.709). So what does all this mean? Well, in reality, nothing. It’s not as if these numbers are going to carry over or guarantee regular season success. But since we’re only six months removed from a season in which pitching proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel, it’s hard not to be encouraged. Manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves have been working hard in many areas, but they have really been focusing on getting the team’s pitchers to be more aggressive. First-pitch strikes have been a point of emphasis, and this year’s coaching staff really wants to see pitchers work at a faster pace than in year’s past. The results have been great so far, and Lester and Buchholz are the two most prominent examples. Suddenly, it looks as if they’re pitching more against the opponent than against themselves, and that should have teams worried when the regular season kicks off. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Darren Sproles' role is growing for the Eagles

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Barkley, Reggie Miller condemn Indiana religious freedom bill

Metta World Peace interested in coaching at St John's

Knicks want Marc Gasol, do they know what they’re asking for?

New York Rangers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot

Victorino: I plan on playing every day for Red Sox in 2015

The Rams are still planning on drafting a quarterback

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Russell Wilson to suit up for Texas Rangers Saturday

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

WWE unveils Ultimate Warrior statue

WATCH: Tom Brady jumps off tall cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Dominique Wilkins in HORSE

Angels remove Josh Hamilton banner from front of stadium

Elite Eight preview: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

Support for relocation growing among NFL powers

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

The last Expo standing

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.