Found September 04, 2013 on Boston's Bettah:
Game_1_alds_a0b6
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”.
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