BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox starter Jon Lester fell to 6-4 on the season following Boston’s 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday — Lester’s fourth straight loss.
Lester hasn’t won a game in over a month, allowing 28 runs in 35 innings pitched since beginning the season 6-0. The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday, and says Lester’s struggles aren’t from any lingering injury, just poor mechanics.
“I don’t think its something physical based on his velocity. Usually when its physical you see a decrease in velocity, especially in a guy who is at least to some degree a power pitcher like Lester. It’s clearly a mechanical thing,” said Abraham. “It was actually a little better (Sunday); he didn’t walk anybody, struck out eight guys, and had what looked like decent stuff early in the game before Chris Davis homered off him. As funny as it may sound because he didn’t pitch all that well, I think (Sunday) was a little bit of progress compared to the previous couple.”
Lester looked strong over the first two innings, striking out four Orioles while getting out of a jam, but he surrendered three runs in the third and another two in the fifth. Lester hasn’t been attacking the zone consistently during his slump, something Abraham attributes to a lack of confidence.
“It speaks to the lack of confidence he has in his stuff when he does that. That has been the key to (Clay) Buchholz this year, he’s been very willing to throw strikes because he thinks his stuff is so good, even if he throws it over the plate it’s not going to get hit. Lester looks like he wants to throw the ball anywhere but the plate,” he said.
So, can the John Farrell and his staff fix Jon Lester?
“They managed to get (Felix) Doubront pitching pretty well, and I think they can do the same with Lester. He’s not hurt, and the pitches he threw yesterday — especially in the first two innings — shows you that something is there. It’s not like he’s lost it or anything like that; it’s a matter of consistency,” he said. “What they need, is Buchholz to be healthy and their rotation to be back to what it was when they have the same five guys going every five days. At some point, on days off, it will give Lester a little more time to work on his stuff.”
“They don’t need to skip him or anything, but maneuver the rotation in such a way that they can spend a couple of extra days to give him a bullpen sessions, because up until now they haven’t had that chance.”