Jon Lester found himself the designated "ace&..."/> Jon Lester found himself the designated "ace&..."/>

2012 Projections: Jon Lester & the Quest for Redemption


Last season Jon Lester found himself the designated “ace” of the Red Sox staff to start the year.  While it could be argued that Josh Beckett took back that title, Lester was on pace to have another stellar year until the calendar turned to September.  And like the rest of the starting pitchers he stumbled during his final six starts and was asked to pitch on short rest to try and salvage the season.  When it was all said and done, Lester would again lead the club in wins while compiling numbers along the lines of his career.

When looking at his projections for the 2012 season, you have to wonder if Lester really has the ability to be called an ace of the staff.  Let’s take a deeper look.

Last year Lester started 31 games totalling 191.2 innings.  He went 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. Nearly every single statistical category was right around his career average.  So it’s no surprise to see his projected numbers similar to last season and obviously his career.

RotoChamps, courtesy of, has Lester making 33 starts for 205.0 innings, going 16-10.  His ERA is said to be 3.60, a WHIP of 1.24, a strikeout ratio of 8.9K/9, a walk ratio of 3.42 BB/9 and a WAR rating of 4.1, his second lowest of his career.

Pretty safe betting when you look at the numbers projected and compare them to his career lines.

Lester’s best year was in 2010 when he went 19-9, a 3.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.202.  He struck out an average of 9.7 batters per 9 innings and walked 3.6 per 9.  That year he finished fourth in the Cy Young voting and made his first of two All-Star appearances.

So I’m going to ask the question, why can’t Lester have that type of year this year and push to possibly win 20 games?  He’s got the pitch repertoire to accomplish it with his ability to mix up his four pitches and even though he walks more batters than other Red Sox starters, he strikes out his fair share as well.

Last season Lester threw his cutter more than in 2010 (7% more) meaning he threw less curevballs and change ups. His fastball allocation was flat to 2010 at almost 50% of his pitches thrown.  The result?  He had a groundball rate of 50.5% last year, down 3 points from 2010.

The key will be to keep the cutter down and away from batters to help induce some ground balls.

With an offense that shouldn’t have any problems producing runs this year, Lester should have the opportunity to easily win 18 games, if not take a run for 20. He, like so many of the others that remain from last season have a lot to prove and redemption will undoubtedly be on their minds.

Lester is only 28-years old and arguably has his best years ahead of him.  Could this be the start of those years in 2012?  We shall see, but I like his chances.

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