Monday, September 13, 2010

The Quiet Man

Didn't think you'd get a John Ruiz reference reading How Youz Doin Baseball today, did you? Perhaps you'd think Pat would write about perhaps the most crushing loss in the Yankees' season...to a direct rival...with its ace throwing eight scoreless instead of following up Sore Ribs Summer with Sulktember? Well, this is just more proof that you never know what's gonna happen on How Youz Doin Baseball.

But tonight, as I go to bed in anticipation of a 5:00 AM wakeup call, an extended workday, and track practice, I see the Red Sox up 3-0 in the fourth. This is not a surprise. Mostly because the Seattle Mariners' run prevention model was a completely unmitigated catastrophe. But also because the real Quiet Man, Jon Lester, is pitching.

The funny thing is, nobody's really talking about it. Sure, people are talking about how Lackey and Beckett have sucked all year. Maybe this says something about the state of Boston fans has changed and how we have reverted back to the late 1990s. However, this is even true on the positive side. People are talking about Clay Buchholz lighting it up with the exception of Friday, when Coco Crisp singlehandedly dismantled the entire Boston team. But nobody really talks about Lester. John Rish talked about how Lester "has had a good year" on the pregame show tonight.

"Good" apparently means his ERA since April 28 is 2.86 and he has held opponents to an OPS of .607, which is 65 points lower than Jason Varitek's 2008 OPS. It apparently means he's in the top five in the majors in wins, third in the AL in strikeouts, one of four AL pitchers averaging more than a strikeout per inning, and in the top ten in the AL in ERA, WHIP, and several other more-obscure stats. Cite the eight losses and I'll tell you he's lost 2-1 and 4-2 games this year, with the 4-2 loss being largely the result of errors. Yawn. That's just "good."

The only thing keeping this guy from the Cy Young conversation is the fact that he constantly forgets that the baseball season starts at the beginning of April, not the end of it. He's in spring training mode until the first 100-degree day, which is obviously frustrating. But since then, wow, has he been good. He's struck out ten in six different starts. He's given up a home run every fifteen innings pitched. But for some reason - maybe it's because he doesn't have a sexy curveball or throw 105 miles an hour - he's barely discussed around here. Myself included.

I think we might all just take this guy for granted, or we just see him at age 26 (younger than 46) at what he was projected to be: A middle of the rotation starter. But this year and each of the two years before, Jon Lester has given you 200 innings at an ERA of under three and a third.

Pat may have pulled his Nick Swisher gush-fest Monday morning. But I don't care if he's getting shelled right now, my Jon Lester gush-fest is staying up all day. Maybe it's not quite at Coco Crisp level, but it's about time Jon Lester got his due appreciation.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Lester has been a pimp since late April. The problem is that he's pitched on a 3rd place team. People aren't getting excited about him or Buchholz for the Cy Young because the Sox are playing out the string. Felix Hernandez leads the league in ERA and strikeouts and he's not in the discussion because his teams is awful. And also because he only has 11 wins (though John Lackey has 12--who would you rather have?). Sabathia and Price are the guys that it will come down to and, to paraphrase coach Whitmore, fortunately or unfortunately, that's just the reality of playing on winning teams.

--the Gunn

PF said...

dv -

good post. i'm pretty consistently surprised at how little attention lester gets from red sox fans, and i think he is definitely taken for granted on at least some level. he and youkilis are by so far and away the red sox best players (and lester is really even more valuable than youkilis), you would think he would have a lot more buzz. i can tell you the rest of the league knows how good this guy is and how important he is to that team. i think a lot of the reasons you set out are probably why he doesn't get more attention, although none of them are particularly good reasons. the guy is a star. and you furthered this point of him being overlooked and taken for granted in your own post. you said he doesn't have a sexy curveball or throw 105. but his curveball is absolutely dynamite, and when he's feeling it he's working in the mid-90s with his 4-seam fastball. he also comes at you with low 90s cutter and low 90s 2-seam (forcing hitters to deal with nasty scissor action between those two pitches), a slider, and a change-up, all of which are between above average and clear plus pitches. all of this with pinpoint location and a delivery that is powered by his legs, allowing him to have crazy easy arm action that probably makes his heater seem a few mph more than it is to hitters. when i think jon lester, i think incredible stuff highlighted by a few superb pitches, and the fact that in your post you intimate differently i think proves your point. if i was given a choice of any one player on the red sox to have on my team, i would take jon lester and i would spend now time thinking about it.

the yankees are just not a very good baseball team right now.

TimC said...

Agree with all the intelligent comments on Lester, including the thought that no one is talking about him. I will not change that here.

Instead, I just want to comment on what a shame the wild card is. Last night was, apparently, a compelling baseball game between two elite ball clubs battling for the division lead. No one gives a damn, however, because of MNF, the US Open, re-runs of Jersey Shore, and whatever else might have more meaning than a great regular season baseball game thanks to baseball's emphasis on October.

In the name of retaining meaning to the regular season, I pray that European soccer never introduces playoffs, the NFL sticks to 16 games, and college football does not allow non-champions to make the (theoretical) playoffs. Sadly, it is too late for the NBA, NHL, NESCAC hoop, and MLB because they have already gone down a road that is impo$$ible to turn around on.