Found September 04, 2013 on
I hate Jon Lester, I always have hated Jon Lester. You can go back through the archives of this blog and find all my anti-Jon Lester rants and raves. Part of that comes from the fan-base that widely overuses the word “ace” when it comes to baseball and calling Jon Lester an “ace” for a couple of years now. Jon Lester isn’t an “ace” and never has been an “ace”. Kershaw, Strasburg, Verlander – those guys are “ace’s”. Lester is sometimes good, but he isn’t an “ace”. Combined with the fact that Jon Lester can turn in stinkers for what feels like weeks at a time does not help his case either.
So the dirty secret of the past month of the season for the Boston Red Sox is that Jon Lester has been really, really, good. In fact, Jon Lester has been so good that suddenly it appears as if the Red Sox have two stoppers at the top of their rotation. He hasn’t given up more than three runs since the start of August – six against Arizona – he has done a fairly good job at striking out batters, and most importantly, he hasn’t allowed home-runs, the most important preventive tool of a pitcher.
Red Sox fans should not get too excited that Jon Lester is finally reaching his potential and becoming an “ace”. Let’s take a closer look at his last seven starts:
(You can click the picture to enlarge it)
First, let’s make this clear. Last night was his best start of the season and the best of his recent run of games. Against the best team in the American League, Lester struck out nine across 7 innings despite the fact that forty percent of the Tigers batters who put the ball in play got base hits. He was able to mitigate the damage because he induced swings and misses.
Yet, the Batting-average on balls in play is a big part of the reason why Lester has been good but not great in his recent starts. Take a look at the start in LA. Lester struck out six, but walked four, yet Los Angeles only scored three runs. What happened is that the Dodgers only had a .176 average when the ball was hit showing that Lester got some major help from his defense. Against San Francisco, Lester only struck out three yet allowed zero runs. Once again, poor bats and good defense led the way.
Look, I’m not saying that Lester is bad or is not a benefit of a Red Sox defense that ranks in the top ten in baseball. All I am saying is that Jon Lester certainly has had a lot of luck in the month of August and having seen Lester implode at times over the years worries me. The less a pitcher controls his own outs, the more prone to fluctuation the pitcher is to his box-score lines. This is why the strike-outs, walks and home-runs are huge parameters of future pitching success. The second the ball leaves the bat and enters the field of play, the pitcher is mostly out of control of the destiny of the out. The fact that Lester has extremely low BABIP numbers in the starts seen as his “best” starts – the Detroit game non-withstanding – is not a cause for concern, but it is certainly a sign to cool the jets on a Lester revitalization.
Certainly Lester combined with John Lackey and a healthy Clay Buchholz give the Red Sox a solid three man rotation to make noise in the playoffs, especially when combined with a top of the table offense. Labeling Jon Lester the rotations stopper, however, has flaws. Lester had a good August and should be able to parlay that into a good September and October, lets just cool down before we decide Lester has finally become an “ace”.
BEST OF MAXIM
Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Miguel Cabrera is, as Jon Lester noted last night, the best hitter on the planet.
So, when Cabrera came up to the plate with three Detroit Tigers on base and the visitors holding a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning...
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John Lackey has the lowest ERA of any Red Sox starter.
He has more quality starts than any of his rotation mates.
His 1.17 WHIP is surpassed only by newcomer Jake Peavy.
A fan of advanced metrics? Lackey’s 3.0 WAR is tops among all Boston pitchers.
He also leads the team in losses.
The veteran right-hander fell victim to yet another hard-luck defeat in Monday’s Labor Day matinee...
Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them
here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as
satisfying as a good morning dump.
Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 9, made his
third rehab start, and second for the Pawtucket Red Sox, on Thursday, in
the hopes of being pronounced ready to return to Boston.
Clay Buchholz made what is expected to be his final, last, this time we mean it minor league rehab start Thursday night.
Pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket in Rochester, Cautious Clay went three shutout innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fourth inning.
Buchholz threw 72 pitches (51 for strikes) in 3 2/3 innings of work, gave up four hits,...
The Red Sox open a four-game series with the increasingly irrelevant Evil Empire tonight, sending Jake Peavy to the mound to face Ivan Nova. On Friday, Felix Doubront will take to the hill against fellow left-hander Andy "HGH" Pettitte. On Saturday afternoon, John Lackey will take on someone named David Huff and Sunday afternoon's match-up will feature Jon Lester against...
It was a battle of two aces on Tuesday night, but Jon Lester saved one of his best performances of the season for the occasion, and he was rewarded with a hard-earned win.
The left-hander allowed only one run, and struck out a season-high nine batters over his seven innings of work. Lester outdueled Max Scherzer who was seeking his 20th win of the season, and looking to become...
The cavalry is coming, and it’s just in time for the stretch run.
For the Red Sox, that simply means Clay Buchholz is on his way back. The right-hander continues his rehab assignments, and it’s believed he could return as early as next week in Tampa Bay.
There’s no understating how important Buchholz could be, especially if he returns to anything close to what he was before...
Even without Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers showed why they are still considered the team to beat in the American League, shutting out the Boston Red Sox 3-0 in the series opener on Labor Day. Detroit (81-57) now trails Boston (82-57) by a half-game for the best record in the AL with a chance to overtake the top spot tonight.
Jon Lester has...
8 a.m. ET: Monday’s series opener between the Red Sox and Tigers was not what you would expect from the two highest-scoring teams in baseball. Both starters took shutouts into the seventh inning, with Detroit’s Doug Fister emerging victorious in a 3-0 Tigers win.
Don’t be shocked if you see more of the same on Tuesday. The second matchup in a three-game series between the...
BOSTON (AP) -- Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer and the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 2-1 on Tuesday night, ending the Tigers right-hander's chance to become just the second pitcher to open a season with a 20-1 record.
Lester (13-8) lowered his ERA to 1.71 in his past six starts. He allowed one earned run and eight hits with a season-high nine strikeouts and no walks.
A potential ALCS preview takes center stage on Labor Day as the Detroit Tigers visit the Boston Red Sox, two of the top teams in the American League. Detroit (80-57) leads the AL Central by 7.5 games over the Indians. Boston (82-56) has a 5.5 game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East. Both teams are poised to make the postseason and could be on a...
Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer and the Boston Red Sox beat
Detroit 2-1 on Tuesday night, ending the Tigers right-hander's
chance to become just the second pitcher to open a season with a
With the start of a four game set in Happytown, the Sox have a chance to put a sizable hurtin’ on the Yankees. Every win will beef up the already imposing 8 game lead the Sox currently enjoy. Dare I suggest that a sweep would pretty much eliminate any Yankee post-season aspirations. On the heels of that insane pasting of the Tigers last night, I’ve got to hope the boys have fine...
Photo Courtesy of NESN
Yesterday's match up had the feel and look of a playoff game. It was a tight pitchers duel between two aces and the crowd was into it. Why? Because the road back to another World Series will go through the Motor City in the ALCS. Simple as that. If we make it past the ALDS, we will most likely see Detroit again.