Game 137, Red Sox at Mariners
Blake Beavan vs. Jon Lester, 7:10pm
Puyallup native Jon Lester’s season is a microcosm for the Sox’ agonizing 2012 campaign. He came into 2012 looking to compete for a Cy Young after a somewhat disappointing 2011, just as the Red Sox attempted to put the misery of the last day of 2011 (and the departure of their manager and GM) behind them. While Lester’s FIP/xFIP have been relatively consistent, a drop in Ks and an increase in HRs have left him with an ERA that produces a below-replacement level rWAR. I’m not going to suggest that you look at the ERA and ignore the FIP, but it’s troubling that his K rate has dropped so markedly – he was over 26% for two full years, and now he’s down at 19.6%. This, coupled with a six-start run that was jaw-droppingly bad, has led to some speculation that he’s pitching hurt.
He’s quieted that talk with two brilliant outings in mid-August, but his last two starts have been a mixed bag. Lester’s K rates are down for lefties and righties, but they’ve fallen fast against right-handers. In his great 2009-2010 seasons, he fanned a roughly equal percentage of lefties and righties (around 26%), as he had a great change-up to go with his curve ball. He’s fanning less lefties, but his K rate to righties has plummeted to 18%. While a lot of attention’s focused on his cutter usage, his fastball and change aren’t working the way they once did to right-handers.
The M’s counter with Blake Beavan, who can only imagine what a 19% K% in the majors might be like, not to mention having everyone wonder if you’re OK because you’re only striking out 7 per 9.
Dave told you all about the 7 players the M’s added from the Tacoma roster, but an 8th Rainier will be at the game tonight too – Catcher Guillermo Quiroz was traded to Boston and will presumably be in uniform for tonight’s game. The M’s appeared to like his pitch-calling, but there was obviously no space for him on an M’s team that’s already carrying three catchers.
The line-up is about as righty-heavy as it could be, save for swapping Liddi in for Seager. The good side is that Casper Wells gets the start in his first game back from AAA, and the down side is that Olivo catches. In this game, against this pitcher, I think you could make a case that starting Olivo isn’t the worst move, but life’s too short to debate things like that for long given that neither of these teams is going anywhere this year. The Red Sox are going nowhere this year. That’s amazing, and the source of rich, nourishing schadenfreude.
4: Montero (DH)
6: Olivo (C)
Victor Sanchez pitches for Everett tonight in the Northwest League playoffs. If you’re in the north end, or if you want to see an interesting young pitcher, go see the AquaSox game tonight.