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Entries in Nick Cafardo (1)

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.