Is it an injury? Is it mental? Is it stress? Is it age?
Something is just not right with Jon Lester. This is extra panic-inducing for fans given Buchholz‘s possible up-coming DL visit. Perhaps Lester’s current struggles just look worse because we’ve seen him do so well. Are we expecting too much of him? Could it be that he’s really a number three starter who is just misunderstood?
That’s hard to believe. He’s only 29 years old. He made the All Star team in 2010 and 2011. He had two shut outs in 2008, most in the AL. In 2008 and 2009 he had the third most strike outs in the league. His 19 wins in 2008 were second most in the AL. All these stats reinforce our feeling that Lester is a great pitcher, that he’s the guy you can count on for a good performance.
So, what’s going on? His ERA for June is a jaw-dropping 8.62. He hasn’t earned a win since May 15 (though the validity of the win-loss stat is debatable). Is is the time of year? Last July he didn’t get a single win and had an ERA of 9.36.
We can start the debate about whether the Sox should keep him around next season or not, but that doesn’t help us now. With only a 1.5 game lead over Baltimore and the Yanks a mere 3 games back, the Sox are clinging onto a slim lead. We need the old Lester back and we need him back now. Will a visit to the DL be helpful? Maybe skipping a start to give him a break? I’m no sports psychologist, but perhaps Lester should sit down with one.
Wherever you are, Jon Lester, know that we’re pulling for you. (At least those of us fans who haven’t started the “Let Lester Walk” campaign.)