Mar 11, 2013; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws in the fourth inning during a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Lester, Buchholz Putting Together a Dominant Spring Season

I was working through some Sox statistics yesterday and and noticed how great both Jon Lester‘s and Clay Buchholz‘s numbers looked so I decided to bump those up against other MLB pitchers. The top of Boston’s rotation has quietly put together a killer one, two punch that fans should pray carries through to the regular season. Lester and Buchholz combined over 38.2 innings, have an 0.93 ERA and a sick 0.68 WHIP. Heading into the last 10 days of spring training that makes Lester and Buchholz numbers one and two in major league baseball.

Yes, spring training stats are essentially meaningless but the trends, especially for pitchers, cab be important signs for things to come. Ask Roy Halladay about mechanics, adjusting throughout your career and health and what all those components mean to momentum heading into the regular season. The normally dominant Halladay started to falter during the second half of the 2012 season, posting a 4.93 ERA during that time. This spring he has not been right. Both his velocity and swing and miss ratios are down. He has battled a stomach virus that has caused him to lose 10 pounds and some of his stamina. It shows. Halladay is not the same and that is cause for concern for Phillies fans.

Mar 7, 2013; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) throws in the first inning during a spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the exception of Buchholz’s freak hamstring tweak on the first day of camp, both pitchers have been the picture of health – both mental and physical – and have simply kept the opposition in a hole. They are a combined 5-0 with 16 strike outs each. Opponent have batted 0.92 and .167 respectively against the duo.

Compare that with their 2012 spring numbers:
Lester: 3.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2-1 record, .250 opponent batting average, 14 Ks, 7 walks
Buchholz: 5.23 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2-2 record, .228 opponent batting average,  15Ks, 3 walks

This translated to 2012 regular season numbers:
Lester: 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9-14 record, .273 opponent batting average, 166 Ks, 68 walks
Buccholz: 4.56 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 11-8 record, .263 opponent batting average, 64 walks, 129 Ks

They are two different guys this year. Credit goes to each player as well as new Red Sox pitching coach and manager Juan Nieves and John Farrell. They have kept the tone low-key and professional, a far cry from reports of Bobby Valentine‘s spastic dashing about from field to field during the 2012 spring training season, which apparently wore him out and rendered him unable to perform…well, except for the mouth.

Staying healthy, staying focused and just playing baseball is all Red Sox Nation needs this year from each player. Lester and Buccholz are providing that leadership so far.

And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine 
Two steps away from the county line 
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied, 
Satisfied.
- Keep The Customer Satisfied, Simon & Garfunkel 

Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Bucc Jon Lester

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