Statistics as of 5/12/08Spanning the globe to bring you in-depth pitching information, let's look at Lester, the courageous 24-year-old who's leading the defending World Champions in innings. Lester has surmounted non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer he was diagnosed with in August 2006. Lester is now an advocate for raising money to combat cancer through his website the Lester Project, which is a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund. As of October 2007, the Lester Fund had raised $56,000. I scout these pitchers personally, recording their velocity, pitch selection and motions by watching their games. I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. Please feel free to post your thoughts below on the pitcher or the column. 80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
Rating: %Thrown: Fastball 60 50 Cut fastball 55 15 Curveball 60 20 Slider N/A Changeup 55 15 Control 55 Delivery 55 Composure 55Lester throws an 89-93 MPH four-seam fastball that touches 94 and an 85-89 MPH cutter. He has average movement on his 81-84 MPH changeup, and his tight 70-75 MPH curveball is a good strikeout pitch. Lester commands his curve well and can repeatedly throw it for strikes. He turns to his curve when behind in the count more often than his change, as too often he leaves his changeup up. Lester likes to throw inside to right-handers, and Sox pitching coach John Farrell has instructed him to work outside more. Farrell is also working with Lester to increase his efficiency. Lester has averaged 17.7 pitches per inning - far too many - in his career. He pitches like a strikeout pitcher, and has fanned 139 in his first 195 innings, but doesn't have one dominating pitch. Lester has struggled with his command of his fastball this year, leading to 27 walks in his nine starts. 22 of those have been to right-handed batters, against just 16 strikeouts. It appears Lester is struggling with his cutter. Boring this in on hitters has helped him raise his G/F ratio from previous years, but he's still working on commanding it. For some reason, he's also missing with a lot of first-pitch four-seamers. When Lester has fallen behind 1-0, he has issued 22 of his 27 walks, so getting ahead is crucial for him. Lester's motion is fairly smooth, although it's not free and easy. His delivery is coiled but economical. He fields his position well and has a decent pickoff move. Lester can tip his changeup by slowing his arm speed. He is obviously mentally tough and poised, although he does stare down an umpire now and then. Lester is 13-4 in his career, and stands to win a lot more games on the high-powered Red Sox. It would help him to be more consistently aggressive, keep the ball down and trust his defense more. ---------------- Radar Love - May fastball readings: 94-96: Brad Lidge in saving his 10th game against Atlanta on May 13th.
Article first appeared 5/16/08