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Entries in Jon Lester (14)

Wednesday
Jul102013

The Red Sox Need More, but are getting Lester

Jon Lester is a  29-year old lefty who for a number of years was a consensus pre-season pick to be the Cy Young Award winner.

2013 will be another season when that's not going to happen. 

Year Age W L W-L% ERA GS GF CG SHO IP H HR BB SO WHIP
2010 26 19 9 .679 3.25 32 0 2 0 208.0 167 14 83 225 1.202
2011 27 15 9 .625 3.47 31 0 0 0 191.2 166 20 75 182 1.257
2012 28 9 14 .391 4.82 33 0 3 0 205.1 216 25 68 166 1.383
2013 29 8 5 .615 4.60 19 0 1 1 119.1 121 14 42 99 1.366
8 Yrs 93 53 .637 3.84 206 0 10 3 1282.1 1210 124 472 1159 1.312
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/10/2013.

If you thought that John Farrell would cure Lester's ills, think again.

Scott Lauber quotes Lester in today's Boston Herald,  “I feel like I threw the ball a lot better than the line score said.”

Lauber continues that this "has been a common refrain for Lester, and for the most part, manager John Farrell and (pitching coach Juan) Nieves have agreed. But Nieves also concedes that Lester must evolve from the pitcher who relied on swing-and-miss stuff and a devastating cutter to dominate hitters from 2008-11."

Pitch Frequency of Lester's Cutter 2008-11

This pitch was a thing of beauty. Look at the consistency exhibited by Lester.

Look at the results: 

  • In 2008, Lester threw 330 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .274, had an OBP of .347, slugged .338, and had an OPS of .686. They hit one homers and struck out 71 times and walked 12 times.
  • In 2009, Lester threw 500 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .214, had an OBP of .253, slugged .285, and had an OPS of .539. They hit one homer and struck out 41 times and walked 7 times.
  • In 2010, Lester threw 728 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .185, had an OBP of .245, slugged .235, and had an OPS of .480. They hit one homer and struck out 71 times and walked 12 times.
  • In 2011, Lester threw 798 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .187, had an OBP of .264, slugged .278, and had an OPS of .543. They hit three homers and struck out 87 times and walked 18 times. 

2008-11 Cutter Totals

From 2008-11, Lester threw 2356 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .200, had an OBP of .264, slugged .271, and had an OPS of .536. They hit five homers and struck out 213 times and walked 43 times.

Pitch Frequency of Lester's Cutter 2012-Present

You can see the consistency has started to dissolve as with 1282.1 innings pitched in the books, Lester is simply not as sharp with placement in the strike zone.

Look at the results: 

  • In 2012, Lester threw 454 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .240, had an OBP of .297, slugged .342, and had an OPS of .640. They hit three homers and struck out 45 times and walked 12 times.
  • So far this season, Lester has thrown 319 cutters which puts him on a pace for tossing about 520. Batters against the cutter have hit .264, had an OBP of .323, slugged .396, and had an OPS of .719. They have hit two homers and struck out 29 times and walked six times. 

2012-present Cutter Totals

Since the start of the 2012 season, Lester has thrown 773 cutters. Batters against the cutter hit .249 (up 49 points from the four prior seasons), had an OBP of .307 (up 43 points from the four prior seasons), slugged .363 (up 92 points from the four prior seasons), and had an OPS of .670 (up 134 points from the four prior seasons). They hit five homers and struck out 74 times and walked 18 times.

You have to wonder about Lester in the short-term

On May 15, Lester was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. Since then, in 10 starts, Lester has gone 2-5 and the Sox have gone 5-5. Lester has been hit at a .313 pace and has a 6.49 ERA (the worst of 109 starts since May 20) with an OPS of .900 (the secon worst, only Dylan Axelrod's .944 is worse).

And he's working, his 1072 pitches are the fourth most thrown over that time period.

Lester is clearly struggling and Clay Buchholz has not appeared in a game June 8. Red Sox Nation never anticipated saying that there is little chance they would be in postseason contention without John Lackey.

In fact, you have to wonder what Lester's long-term future is with Boston.

Lester is making $11,625,000 this season and the Red Sox have a team option for 2014 for $13M with a $250k buyout. He is heading in the wrong direction and that makes him no longer a cheap date.

According to Nick Cafardo, national baseball writer for the Boston Globe, during the off-season the Red Sox refused to include him in a deal with the Royals ending their chances of getting Wil Meyers

You have to wonder if they would make the same decision today, as Lester is simply not cutting it.

Today, Nick responding to a reader's query wrote that there would be no shortage of teams lined up for Lester since he is very popular among scouts of other teams.

It is certainly worth keeping an eye on the situation, both now and at the end of the season.

Tuesday
Jun182013

B.Chuck: Boston should be worried about their pitching

As I pointed out yesterday, the Red Sox revival this season has more to do with John Farrell's magic with getting the most out of timely hitting and good clubhouse chemistry than with his presumed talents with a pitching staff. 

  • The Red Sox are seventh in the league with a team ERA of 3.84.
  • Their starters are fourth in the league with a 3.79 ERA and their bullpen is 11th in the AL with a 3.94 ERA. 

But perhaps what should be most disconcerting for Red Sox Nation is there is no indication that the pitching staff is getting better.

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
April/March 18 8 .692 3.58 8 231.0 191 97 92 26 97 255 1.247 9.9 2.63
May 15 15 .500 4.00 3 265.2 260 131 118 32 108 249 1.385 8.4 2.31
June 9 6 .600 3.95 2 136.2 136 62 60 21 55 115 1.398 7.6 2.09
April/Mar,GS 15 4 .789 3.24 0 158.1 131 62 57 15 66 170 1.244 9.7 2.58
May,GS 9 13 .409 4.15 0 177.2 168 93 82 23 73 155 1.356 7.9 2.12
June,GS 7 4 .636 4.03 0 89.1 93 41 40 16 32 68 1.399 6.9 2.13
April/Mar,GR 3 4 .429 4.33 8 72.2 60 35 35 11 31 85 1.252 10.5 2.74
May,GR 6 2 .750 3.68 3 88.0 92 38 36 9 35 94 1.443 9.6 2.69
June,GR 2 2 .500 3.80 2 47.1 43 21 20 5 23 47 1.394 8.9 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 6/18/2013.

A look at the numbers

When you look at the numbers for the pitchers, you can sense that it's pretty amazing that this is a first-place ballclub.

  • With 171 bases on ball, Sox starters have a significant lead in issuing walks over any other group of starters in the majors.
  • With 7142 pitches, Sox starters have thrown more pitches than any other group of starters in the majors, yet they are 10th in the majors in innings thrown.
  • Sox relievers are 10th in innings pitched in the AL with 208.0, but are 11th in ERA in the AL and 13th in WHIP with 1.365.
  • Slugging average against starters is .403, tied for third in the AL and while the slugging against the relievers is .403, that's only good for 13th in the AL.
  • The strikeout to walk ratio is 2.30 for starters (10th in the AL) and 2.54 for the bullpen (6th in the AL).
  • FYI: The Sox pitchers have issued eight bases-loaded walks this season, the most in the majors.

Let's look at some individual numbers 

  • Clay Buchholz is having a Cy Young season: he's 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. He has pitched brilliantly when he's been out there. Buchholz has made 12 starts, missing three so far and we await news as to whether he is going on the DL. Since the start of 2010, Buchholz has made 83 starts, while teammate Jon Lester has made 111.
  • Lester is a whole other set of issues. In his first nine starts, Lester was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. In his last six starts, he is 0-4 and a 7.20 ERA. Lester with 1627 pitches thrown, has tossed more than any other pitcher in baseball, but his 94.7 IP is good for only 15th in baseball. Lester is around the strike zone, he has 69 full counts, the most in baseball, but his 135 foul balls when the batter has two strikes on him is indicative of his inability to finish off an at bat.
  • Despite his 4-5 record, John Lackey has been a pleasant surprise rebounding well from two bad seasons and Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.08 ERA but has a not very impressive 1.212 WHIP.
  • Of course, Lackey's WHIP looks better when you compare it to Ryan Dempster's 1.332 and Felix Doubront's 1.895, who have ERAs of 4.21 and 4.445 respectively, if not respectfully. 

Let's go to the bullpen

  • With the relief corps being used frequently, the Sox bullpenners Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara have each appeared in over 30 games already this season.
  • Andrew Bailey is the full-time closer now that Joel Hanrahan's Red Sox career is probably finished due to injuries. Each season Bailey seems to battle injuries as well. He has been successful in eight-of-10 save attempts. He's had seven-of-22 appearances in which he has not allowed a baserunner. 
  • As a frame of reference, Joe Nathan has had 15-of-30 appearances without allowing a baserunner and Jason Grilli is 17-of-33.

Reason to be concerned

The deeper you look at the pitching (and this was just a glance) for the Red Sox, the more you need to be concerned.

Thus far, the Red Sox timely hitting has carried the team. Having said that, the average team BABIP is .296 and the Red Sox have the highest team BABIP in baseball at .332.

How lucky is that hitting?

Well, in 2008 the Texas Rangers had a .325 BABIP and in 1997, the Red Sox had a .325 batting average for balls in play, the Twins had a .325 BABIP in 1996, the highest numbers in the last 20 seasons.

All of which makes you think that if the Sox don't start getting luckier or better on the mound, the Orioles and Rays and maybe even the Yankees and the Jays will be making the AL East and Wild Card races very close and Red Sox Nation very nervous.

Saturday
Jun012013

31 Stats for the 31 Days of May

  1. Marco Scutaro led the majors hitting .420 in May, Miguel Cabrera led the AL at .379.
  2. Pirates pitchers allowed only three homers with runners on base in May, the Blue Jays allowed 18.
  3. Pirate pitchers allowed the fewest extra base hits in May with 55. The Blue Jays the most with 111.
  4. Nationals pitchers issued only 53 walks in May, the fewest in the majors; Astros pitchers walked 113, Red Sox 108, and Giants 107.
  5. Everth Cabrera led the majors with 12 steals in May, Jacoby Ellsbury led the AL with 10.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays pitchers allowed 28 hits on 0-2 counts; Yankee and Cubs pitchers allowed just five.
  7. Baseball's successful steal rate in May was 73.2%, but the Rockies were 96% (24-of-25) successful while the Braves stole at rate of just 33% (2-of-6). The Astros stole 15 bases but were caught 13 times.
  8. The Astros' Robbie Grossman was 2-for-6 in steals in May, his four times CS were the most in the majors.
  9. Mike Napoli led the majors striking out 38 times in May, followed by Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn, 37 times each.
  10. Rangers outfielders slammed 17 homers in May, the most in the majors, while the Braves outfield hit only four.
  11. Miggy Cabrera led the majors with 33 RBI in May, Domonic Brown led the NL with 25.
  12. On the other hand, the Braves outfield struck out 99 times in May, the most in baseball, while the Baltimore outfield only whiffed 45 times.
  13. Patrick Corbin and Jason Vargas led all pitchers in May each going 5-0.
  14. Cole Hamels was 0-6 in May with a 4.95 ERA.
  15. Texas Rangers batters came through with 11 bases loaded hits in May, Arizona and Houston batters had only one each. Reds batters worked seven bases loaded walks in the month.
  16. Jose Bautista led the majors taking 119 called strikes in May. Matt Carpenter led the NL with 117, the same as Jason Kipnis of the Tribe.
  17. R.A. Dickey had three-ball counts on 83 batters in May, the most in the majors.
  18. Mark Reynolds of the Indians swung and missed 83 times in May, the most in the bigs, Ryan Howard was next with 72, the most in the NL.
  19. While Reynolds led the AL striking out swinging 31 times in May, the major league leaders were Howard and Matt Kemp with 32 each.
  20. Pirates lefty batters hit .071 against southpaws in May, Brewers lefties hit .377.
  21. Anibal Sanchez recorded the most strikeouts of any pitcher in May with 48, just edging Yu Darvish's 47, and teammate Max Scherzer's 45.
  22. The three best records in baseball in May belonged to NL Central teams: St. Louis 20-7 (.741), Cincinnati 19-8 (.704), and Pittsburgh 19-9 (.679).
  23. The Giants strike out rate was just 14.7% in May, the best in baseball. Reds batters didn't fair as well whiffing 24.6% of the time, the worst in baseball.
  24. Jon Lester led the majors throwing 689 pitches in May, Clayton Kershaw led the NL with 651.
  25. Twins batters took 28 called third strikes in May, the most of any team. The Giants were caught looking just seven times.
  26. Reds batters swung and missed on strike three 68 times in May to lead the majors, Red Sox batters went down swinging 66 times to lead the AL.
  27. Dept. of I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Good: The MLB BAbip rate was .297 in May - The Cards had a .379 BAbip to lead the majors, the Red Sox had a rate of .356 to lead the AL.
  28. The Orioles and the Diamondbacks each had 11 hits on 0-2 counts in May, the Yankees had only one. The O's, Tigers, and Rangers each hit two 0-2 count homers.
  29. Matt Harvey went full on a batter only nine times in May.
  30. There were 15 pitchers who had a WHIP under 1.000 in May, but none was lower than Chris Sale's 0.677.
  31. In May, Jordan Zimmermann faced 171 batters, Bartolo Colon faced 149 batters, Adam Wainwright faced 141,  and Hiroki Kuroda faced 122 batters and they each only walked three.