July 23, 2012

What Is Wrong With Jon Lester?

In his last 12 starts since May 19, Jon Lester has a 6.75 ERA in 69.1 innings. Opposing hitters have a .961 OPS (.318/.364/.552) over those starts. His ERA for the season stands at 5.46.

I've let my team down a lot this year. It's hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now. ... [I]t's embarrassing.
So, what the hell is going on?

WEEI's Rob Bradford:
Three separate major league voices, all of whom have an extensive history of analyzing the Sox lefty, came to the same conclusion when asked by WEEI.com what is wrong with Lester.

According to the trio, this doesn't appear to be a physical issue (which both Lester and the Red Sox have continuously stated), and neither the velocity or overall stuff has disappeared to the point of diminishing returns. (And, just for good measure, another former major leaguer who made a living identifying pitch-tipping said Lester is not tipping his pitches.)

There is a consensus. Three takes, one consistent conclusion:

-- When delivering the ball, Lester is throwing his lead leg out toward the plate instead of executing more of a straight, more compact, up-and-down motion.

-- The leg kick is leaving his front foot to drift toward the right. ("Sometimes his toe was pointing toward the Blue Jays dugout," said one of those analyzing the situation.) One of the results of such an approach is opening up his body to the hitter well before he should, allowing the hitter to get a great look at what is being delivered. Blue Jays hitters whispered after the game that every curveball the starter threw could be easily identified.

-- Another result of letting his lead leg drift out and and over is Lester's arm slot dropping, which causes both a lack of command and the flattening out of his fastball. A delivery that included a more straight-up, down-and-through motion would automatically force a more over-the-top arm angle, not allowing the lefty to throw across his body.

When asked if this has been something out of the blue, one of those breaking down the situation said these are issues that have gotten progressively worse over the last two years.


Kathryn said...

So I ask again...how much of this is due to the absence of John Farrell? Or a lack of expertise in his replacements?

allan said...

Farrell is quoted in the story ... but who knows what his absence has meant? I do't think Curt Young impressed anyone, and whatever McClure has been doing with Lester has not been working.

There is also the idea that not having Varitek around is why Lester and Beckett have been so bad, but I don't buy that. These guys have to be able to throw to someone else successfully besides the Cactus. Come on.

Jere said...

"Blue Jays hitters whispered after the game that every curveball the starter threw could be easily identified."

Whispered into a megaphone? I don't understand this line.

Kathryn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
allan said...

Whispered into a megaphone? I don't understand this line.

Something the reporter overheard players saying but then could not get a player to confirm?

Jared said...

If this is a long term problem, I wonder if Farrell knew of the issue going into the game and tipped off his team.

9casey said...

Isnt the one glaring thing that is different this year
. There is no beer and chicken, bring back the buds and birds and we are all good.

allan said...


Lester: "I think when you leave Boston, unless you go to a New York or Chicago, it can't do anything but help you. This is a tough place to play, you know? I love playing here because it makes people accountable. ... I love that part about this place, but I think if you go from here to, I don't know, Texas, it would probably be easier to play. You don't have to worry about other things. You just go out and play."

Amy said...

So if they know the problem., why can't they fix it??

allan said...

The biology of the midseason pitching slump: Fatigue sets in when fastballers don't have time to restore the glycogen in their muscles
July 09, 2012
William Blewett, Baltimore Sun