ALDS game one preview: Jon Lester

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

A lefty with a changeup (but also a curve and a cutter and a pretty good fastball).

Jon Lester has turned in a strong but not spectacular 2013 season. He's compiled an ERA of 3.75 and a similar SIERA of 3.97. He has small but normal platoon splits. When the Rays last faced Jon Lester in August, I wrote a preview that's still applicable today. Lester has a deep arsenal that features both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, an excellent diving changeup, a cutter, and a curve.

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via pitchfx.texasleaguers.com

That's good movement all around with the fastball averaging 94 mph, the sinker a bit below that, the cutter very hard for its movement at 90 mph, the change dropping down to 86 mph, and the curve way down at 77 mph, all according to Brooks Baseball definitions.

In the earlier preview, I talked about how Lester has recently lowered his curve ball usage in favor of his changeup (to righties only, he rarely throws his changeup to a lefty). While that's still true, I've since realized that it's not the whole story. Lester still goes to his curve more as an out pitch. Consider these usage numbers, also from Brooks. When Lester falls behind a right-handed bat, he throws a changeup 11% of the time and a curve 6%. When he gets to two strikes he throws a curve 22% of the time and his changeup only 7%.

One thing you'll notice about those numbers is that it's not actually a ton of secondary pitch usage from Lester. He really pounds the zone with fastballs, a majority being four-seamer's early on in the count and when behind, but just as often cutters once he's ahead.

Today will be power on power. This is what the Rays acquired Delmon Young for. May he lead us to the promised land.

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