Is that you Jon Lester? I can’t see you behind that mountainous ERA and WHIP. Are my eyes deceiving me or do I see a 8.44 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP? Yikes! Everyone knows I was a big Lester fan coming into drafts this season, but I wasn’t able to land him in many leagues (just one). Am I happy with him so far? Of course not. Am I worried about him and doubting my projections? No.
Lester is a slow starter, this is evident in his splits. Lester’s career numbers in April are ugly: 1.58 WHIP, 5.29 ERA. Even in his break out season last year, he struggled in April (1.53 WHIP, 5.40 ERA) and May (1.56 WHIP, 5.86 ERA). According to BaseballMonster, from June 1st on, Lester was the 6th best pitcher behind Lincecum, King Felix, Javier Vazquez, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. He posted 1.08 WHIP, 2.35 ERA and struck out 151 batters in 138 Innings.
Lester has also experienced a little bit of bad luck. I’m looking at Fangraphs and I see a .379 BABIP, 58.2% Strand Rate and a 15.4% HR/FB%. You can’t expect any of this to continue. His career BABIP is .312 and the defense behind him has improved this year, so I would expect it to be lower than his career norm. His career Strand Rate is 75.7%, almost 20% higher than what is now. His career HR/FB% is 9.0%, which is below the league average.
The only thing that seems to be an issue is the walks. He’s rocking a 5.06 BB/9, which is almost double from the past two seasons. His First Strike% is up slightly, but his Zone% is a fugly 41.6%. He started a little slow in this stat last season too, but it was still 46.8% compared to the 48.1% he finished with. This has to improve and I’m sure it will.
The velocity is still there (his Cutter has gained 1 mph), hes inducing a few more Ground Balls and even though the O-Contact% is up a bit (which I expected, but more than I hoped), I wont be complaining about 8 K/9. I’m not worried about Jon Lester and if someone wants to deal him to me at a semi-reduced price, I’ll be happy to oblige.