Aside from his BB/9 and K/BB, every other peripheral has gone in the wrong direction over the past year and a half. Michael Barr of Fangraphs wrote a great piece in mid-May with plenty of graphics to illustrate that we're seeing a very different pitcher:
Lester’s 3.71 ERA and 1.27 WHIP aren’t vintage Lester — what fantasy baseball enthusiasts might expect from him – but well within the realm of reality for Lester’s career. And in terms of luck, his predictors are pretty much in agreement with his FIP at 3.52, xFIP at 3.99 and SIERA at 4.17. But he’s getting his outs in a decidedly different manner this season (so far) and color me just a little concerned about the observable trends.
Barr went on to cite how batters' contact rates have steadily risen while his swinging strike and K% have precipitously declined. Further analysis showed an increased reliance on sinkers over cutters, especially when ahead in the count 0-2. Lester was also shown to be far less effective against LHH.
That was then, and it was bad enough. Now, nearly 2 months later, it's far worse. In his last 11 starts since May 19, he's posted a 5.65 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 65.1 innings while opposing hitters have creamed him at a .306/.345/.504/.849 clip. That not-so-awful 3.71 season ERA at press time (on the heels of a 1-run CG win over the pathetic Mariners) now sits at 4.80 through tonight's stinker. Even taking into account that 8 of those starts were in Fenway with 2 others in bandboxes (Wrigley & Citizens Bank), he's come up far short of the #3 starter label, let alone ace or #2.
I'm at a loss to explain how or why he's morphed into a pumpkin so quickly without resorting to talk radio critiques of his attitude and work ethic. Next year his salary climbs another 4 bills, from $7.625M to $11.625M. With a $13M option looming for 2014, I have a hard time seeing Lester as part of this club beyond next season.
Edited by mabrowndog, 18 July 2012 - 07:57 AM.