Key Stats: At the end of the year, Jon Lester had an ERA and WHIP of 3.41 and 1.23 respectively. Certainly respectable numbers, but only Yovani Gallardo was worse among pitchers who struck out 200 or more batters. The key to remember for Lester though is that he had ERAs over 5 and WHIPs over 1.50 in the season’s first two months. After the first two months of the year, Lester had a 2.35 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Going by the numbers for the full season, only Zack Greinke was better in both stats.
Skeptics Say: Coming up through the Red Sox system, Lester gained the reputation of a power pitcher who could dominate games with strikeouts, but in the early part of his career that pitcher didn’t show up. This could certainly be related to his long recovery from cancer, but the three strikeout per 9 innings jump is still rather high for a guy who was a good pitcher and showing minimal health problems in 2008. I’m not that worried though. The K/9 began climbing after his no hitter in May of 2008 and as the season progressed. Last year his average fastball was 1.5 MPH faster on average at 93.6 MPH. It might just be that Lester is getting better rather than lucky.
Peer Comparison: Chris Carpenter ahead of Lester. Are you joking? CBS. Yahoo. Bloomberg. Couch Managers. It’s not funny. Carpenter had more wins, a better WHIP, and a better ERA than Lester did last year. The only stat Lester bested Carp in was strikeouts, but let’s analyze just in case your drinking the same Kool Aid (ok maybe not Kool Aid) that those fellas are.
- Carpenter has been on the disabled list three straight years. He is going to be 35 this season. Lester hasn’t been on the disabled list in the last two seasons. He is going to be 26 this season.
- Carpenter’s WHIP was 1.11 in the second half. Lester’s second half WHIP was 1.15. Not a really big difference, and it’s about to get smaller. Carpenter’s BABIP against was .272 (career .303). Lester’s BABIP against was .323 (.310 career). Carpenter had the best WHIP of his career last year – even better than in 2005 when he was the NL Cy Young winner.
- The ERA difference between the two players was 1.17 last year. The FIP difference was 0.37.
- Lester had 81 more strikeouts than Carpenter last year. Combining the strikeout total of top-tier closer Mariano Rivera with Carpenter would still not equal Lester’s strikeouts.
- Wins are wins. It’s a luck stat, but which bullpen would you want. One with hard-throwing Daniel Bard setting up hard-throwing Jonathan Papelbon or one with Trever Miller setting up the surprising Ryan Franklin?
Team Outlook: FIP is fielding independent, but the Red Sox will be fielding dependent in 2010. Marco Scutaro had a positive UZR last year playing on the turf in Toronto for half his games and then having to go to natural grass for almost the other games. It’s a tough adjustment, but he was still a good overall fielder. He’s the only player in the infield that hasn’t won a Gold Glove in the last three years. The only transition for Lester is not having Jason Varitek calling the game behind the plate. Lester worked with Victor Martinez only a little toward the end of the season so hopefully the battery can get familiar with one another over the next month and a half.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #11 Starting Pitcher; ESPN.com: #39 Overall; Yahoo: #17 Starting Pitcher and #78 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #59 Overall; Couch Managers: #60 Overall; FB 365: #8 Starting Pitcher
Projection: Said it last year and this year I mean it. Jon Lester will be your 2010 Cy Young winner.
18 wins 3.22 ERA 1.19 WHIP 233K in 219 innings
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