ALDS Game One Preview: Scouting Jon Lester

In a rematch of the two returning American League playoff teams, the Angels and Red Sox begin their second consecutive Divisional Series showdown tonight in Anaheim.

25-year-old southpaw Jon Lester will don the incarnadine stockings in game one. This will mark his sixth career playoff start and his third against the Angels. One of the few quirks the Angels lineup features is their ability to mix and match with switch hitters. Kendry Morales, Erick Aybar, Chone Figgins, and bench bats like Maicer Izturis and Gary Matthews Jr. are able to bat from either side. Such flexibility complicates late inning bullpen match-ups based on platoon splits. Lester has near equal success against lefties and righties alike throughout his young career; meaning Terry Francona should experience more headaches from the Angels peskiness than Lester.

What most people know about Lester is that…
A) He defeated cancer
B) He threw a no-hitter.
C) He plays for Boston.

Allow me to add some more knowledge to the collective JonLesterInfo.txt file by using his 32 regular season starts. First, some observations on his approach:

– He rarely uses his change-up in the first inning.
– His fastball usage decreases throughout the game.
– Not shy about using his breaking stuff against either hand.
– Prefers to work away from lefties; is comfortable throwing up and in however.
– Pitches everywhere against righties, especially the upper two-thirds of the zone.

As for his actual stuff:

– He throws a few variations of fastballs; your garden variety four-seamer, a cutter, and a sinker.
– His four-seamer sits in the mid-90s and is mildly effective against lefties, but doesn’t miss many right-handed bats despite being the pitch he uses against righties the most often.
– Maybe it simply sets up well for his change-up which induced nearly 30% whiffs against righties this year.
– His cutter and curve are effective against both hands while his slider is absolutely filthy; 15% whiffs against lefties and 21% against righties.

Lester performed like one of the best pitchers in baseball during the regular season, if he replicates that tonight, runs are going to be tough to come by.

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