|Oh Crabcakes, you vex me so. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net in 2008 and used with permission.
I think Jon Lester put it best about last night:
“I really don’t know what to say, other than it’s been [expletive],” Lester said. “I bust my [behind] every five days to go out and perform, and I’m not performing right now. I’m letting the team down. There’s no reason that we should not have won that game after four runs in the first three innings. It’s inexcusable.
That bolded part is pretty much what I said after watching that train wreck of a performance by Lester. Please don’t tell me how great he was over the first five innings. His meltdown in the sixth inning after he made the mental error of not being able to start the double play that would have gotten him out of the inning, for me, erases anything else he did last night. Everyone wants to talk about Papi’s struggles and there are still many out there who want to bash Julio Lugo (who happens to be hitting .326 with a .392 OBP right now) but Jon Lester (and Josh Beckett, if I’m being fair, but that’s for another rant) seems to be untouchable when it comes to criticism. When do people start saying “How is it that the kid so many had pegged for Cy Young this year has an ERA well past 6.00 with teams hitting .311 against him?” Sure his strike outs are there (54 in 47 innings) but if he’s not following through to pitch well enough for the win – what good are they doing?
As a comparison, I looked up a player no one expected anything out of. The Anti-Jon Lester, if you will. Here are some numbers: The Anti-Jon Lester has pitched 37.2 innings (to Lester’s 47), his ERA is 6.45 (to Lester’s 6.51), he’s given up 50 hits (to Lester’s 60), he’s given up 4 home runs (to Lester’s 10) and opponents are hitting .321 off of him (to Lester’s .311). Lester bests him in strike outs (Lester has 54 to this guy’s 26) but the Anti-Jon Lester has a WHIP of 1.54 compared to Lester’s 1.62.
Who is the Anti-Jon Lester in this example? Cleveland Indians pitcher Carl Pavano.
In the article I linked above, Adam Kilgore points out a couple of things that should encourage me:
Lester finished last season with a .771 winning percentage, the best in the modern era for a pitcher with at least 59 starts. Lester pitched at least seven innings in 16 starts last season. He’s done it twice in eight starts this season.
Lester experienced similar struggles at the beginning of last season. He did not become one of the best pitchers in the game until late last year.
I’d like to note that Lester’s winning percentage last year was actually .727. Nitpicky to be sure, but I found it quite easy to find the proper number while researching all of Jon’s stats. Anyway, my problem with comparing this year to last is that last year Lester was a horse for this team. He threw just over 210 innings for the Sox and really did seem to leave it all out on the field for them. So why am I picking on him?
Well, I don’t think I am. But it’s tough for me to watch him have mediocre outings and then hear people complain about some other aspect of the game as if his pitching didn’t contribute to the four losses he has in the eight appearances he’s made thus far.
Do I think Lester is going to become the Carl Pavano we all knew from the Yankees? No. No I don’t. But I also think at 25 he still hs a lot of growing up to do and to crown him the next Red Sox Hall of Famer is a tad premature. Hell, even Jason Varitek seems to take every opportunity he gets to remind reporters that Lester is a work in progress and still has a lot to do in the way of becoming a reliable star in this rotation.
Many have mentioned that, lately, when they see Papi up at bat they assume an out. Well, when I see Jon Lester on the mound, I assume a loss. He needs to get his [expletive] together.
On a much happier note, I know I have a few readers in the Pawtucket/Providence area so if you’re looking for something to do at 6:05 tonight, how about visiting McCoy Stadium and watching Kyle Snyder pitch against Charlie Zink? It’s truly a game I’m sorry I have to miss but, alas, I do. Family obligations will have me nowhere near Pawtucket at 6 tonight. I’m torn. Can I hope that both Kyle and Charlie have kick ass games and then the PawSox win in extra innings once Kyle has left the game? That works!
Also down in Pawtucket? Javier Lopez. After clearing waivers, Javi accepted the assignment. Here’s hoping he fixes whatever needs to be fixed in Pawtucket. It’ll be interesting to see both he and Kyle there on Tuesday.
Today is my Goddaughter’s First Communion party so I’ll be away from the Internet and hanging with family until game time. (For once, a west coast game works in my favor!) Go out and enjoy the day, people! And think good thoughts for Jon Lester. 🙂