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Brushing Up On Jon Lester

Jon Lester in his current form is kind of a SuperDanks.  He's got more or less the same repertoire, except everything's harder.  He's got a real four-seamer with good vertical movement that he throws between 94-96 mph, a two-seamer with nice horizontal movement that sits 91-92 mph, a cutter that tops out at 90 mph, as well as a change and a curve.  See chart:


Hooray chart!



Career: .263/.336/.381

2009: .245/.304/.354

Unlike Danks, the change is more of a show-me that he lacks real confidence in.  He much prefers to go hard, and can set up the curve with the cutter.  He's very confident in his curve, which he loves to backdoor against RHB.  When thrown off the cutter and spotted just off the plate, it functions similarly to Danks' change.  Of all his pitches, he demonstrated the best command with the curve in the two starts I watched.  He stays low and away with the two seamer and works up in the zone with the four seamer, but showed a tendency to miss rather than get ahead.  This was true of the cutter as well, though he missed on the plate with the cutter more than any other pitch.  The end result still wasn't pretty for opposing righties.  Lester threw enough good strikes despite the deep counts and eventually found something the batter couldn't catch up with.  Typically, a whiff came on the cutter in, four-seamer up or the aforementioned backdoor curve.  Groundballs came on the cutter in and two-seamer away.  It adds up to legitimate ace.



Career: .247/.305/.390 

2009: .244/.301/.406

His four-seamer's only a notch below Easy Heat's, so he can rely on just his fastball to consistently get outs.  Getting much beyond the occasional hit is asking for a lot.  He has allowed a somewhat higher ISO against LHB for his career, but more than compensated with fewer walks.  In '09, he's cut his walks to RHB such that there's almost no platoon split.  It's still likely a better call to protect vulnerable lefties.  RHB at least have a chance to take a walk.  I'd certainly much prefer a Quentin-Rios-Dye outfield, in any case.

Lester's an ace and Freddy is replacement level.  That's worth about 2 runs per nine innings between the teams.  In order to win this one, Ozzie is going to have to go to his bullpen early.  And we're going to have to make sacrifices to our idols.  All hail Beckham and Q!, masters of our fate.