I didn’t spend the time to click through each team in the Steamer projections, but I’m guessing the Red Sox are one of few teams, if not the only team, to have the five guys projected to pitch the most innings each be projected for 2+ WAR. They may not have an elite starter, but their rotation has nice depth.
Although not elite, Jon Lester isn’t a bad first option. He’s going on six straight years of 190+ IP, and he topped 200 IP in five of those six years. From 2008 to 2011 he coupled the workhorse inning totals with a sub-3.50 ERA. But the wheels came off in 2012. He lost velocity, and his ERA ballooned up to 4.82 while his strikeout rate fell to league average. Luck also played a part in the down year as his HR/FB rate was about four points higher than his career average, which contributed to a career low strand rate that was about seven points below his career average.
Not that we should have seen such a blow up coming, but the signs were there in 2011 that Lester was in decline. His strikeout rate had hovered just above 26% in the two years prior to 2011, but it fell to 22.8% that year. That contributed to the highest ERA (3.47) of that four year stretch and the first time in three years that his SIERA was above 3.50. At that point it was probably safe to assume that a slow decline had begun. Given that Lester’s ERA finished at 3.75 last year, maybe we should have expected to land in the 3.60 range in 2012 if all else had been equal. Read the rest of this entry »