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« David Ortiz's Hidden Decline | Main | Singles Versus Power »

Lester's Fastball Issues

As we saw in the last entry, Lester's cutter has been very valuable over the last few seasons.  His fastball, however, has been giving him trouble recently.  Compare batters' performance off it the last three seasons:

Jon Lester's Fastball

(Click to enlarge)
Opponents hit better against Lester's fastball each year since 2008.  But it was left-handed batters that have really begun to zero in on the pitch. As a result, Lester has begun to utilize the fastball less. In 2008 it represented 63.7 percent of his pitches thrown (69.7 to LHB). This dropped to 55.7 and 38.8 percent in 2009 and 2010 respectively (67.1 and 40.7 to LHB).

Last year represented a noticeable change in his repertoire. As Lester has shied away from the throwing the fastball as much, he's leaned more on his superior cutter. In 2010, he threw the cutter for 21.7 percent of his pitches, and 22.5 percent to LHB. This is up 9.8 percent over his previous two year rate to all batters, and 14.8 percent to LHB.

Given how successful he's been with the cutter, expect him to continue favoring it over the fastball this season, particularly against lefties.

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