In what’s been a disappointing 2014 campaign so far for the Boston Red Sox, Jon Lester has proven to be one of the few bright spots on a team that currently sits 7 games below .500 and is riding an 8-game losing streak.
Through 47 games, Lester has been Boston’s best player , and I don’t think it’s even close .
In his 10 starts this year, the Sox’ ace has been dominant. Despite a lousy record of 4-6, his WAR of 2.2 is actually the 4th highest mark in the league among pitchers, and statistically pegs him as one of the top guys in all of baseball.
Whether you agree with that idea or not, there’s no denying Lester’s ace status. He is one of just nine pitchers in the league to have a K/9 of 10.00 or more, and has held opponents to just a .239 average on the season. The cutter — which he is using much more frequently in 2014 at 29 percent — has paralyzed hitters, and the velocity of his fastball has been encouraging to see all year.
Lester’s job has been to anchor the rotation. And with the help of batterymate David Ross, anchor he has. With the bottom three guys — Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz — all under-performing, it would be frightening to imagine where the Sox would be if it weren’t for the work of the large lefty at the top. More often than not, he plays the role of the stopper during a losing streak (anytime now Jon), or an innings-eater when the bullpen is fatigued. Important features for a pitcher to possess. He is the ultimate leader for this pitching staff.
His case for a long-term contract extension continues to grow, and the Red Sox need to seriously get the wheels in motion and approach Lester with a realistic offer. It’s a simple strategy: Lock down your best player. A left-hander of Lester’s caliber is hard to come by, and the Sox can ill afford to lose theirs.
David Ortiz has been the Red Sox best hitter to this point in the year with 11 homers and 25 RBI’s. A recent slump has seen his average drop down to .275, but it’s still been a productive year for Papi. He hasn’t had the same impact on the club this year as Lester.
John Lackey is the other beast that helps man the top of the rotation. He leads the club in wins with five, and after holding the Rays to zero runs last night, his ERA stands at 3.58. The problem is that both are starting pitchers which makes for an easier side-by-side comparison. When you look at the numbers, Lester has a better mark in nearly every category.
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