In the 12-2 offensive explosion that was yesterday’s Red Sox win, it’s easy to overlook the dominance displayed by Game One starter Jon Lester. In 7.2 innings, Lester allowed just 2 runs (both on solo home runs) on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7. Considering that he should have had one more strikeout and one less home run due to a bad call, Lester was absolutely on point and dominant.
While a proven ace is generally an overvalued concept in baseball– many teams in recent years have won even without a truly elite pitcher– there’s no denying that it helps. If Jon Lester came pitch in 2010 form during this postseason, it will give the Red Sox a pitcher who can be competent even in facing the Max Scherzers or the Anibal Sanchezes or the Bartolo Colons of opposing teams in the playoffs.
That’s not to say that the Red Sox don’t have other big arms who could fill this role. John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, and Jake Peavy all have the potential to step up and be huge for the Red Sox down the stretch. However, few would deny that Lester has the highest ceiling among in the Red Sox rotation. Seeing him reverting to vintage form– sitting in the mid 90’s with an improved cutter and breaking ball– is incredibly encouraging.
Having somebody like Lester to step up as a member of an already solid rotation would be a great advantage. Lester has been on point for the entire second half, pitching to a 7-2 record and 2.57 ERA in his last 13 starts. Seeing him continue this pace for the postseason would be fantastic for the Red Sox. Even if he may not be a big name like Scherzer or Justin Verlander, Lester certainly has the potential to be every bit as good.