I will preface this article by saying that it is certainly not an overreaction to Opening Day, as Jon Lester allowed three home runs for the first time in his career against the Texas Rangers.
Lester has been one of the most dominating left-handed starters in the American League over the last three years. He’s won 50 games over those three seasons with an ERA under 3.45 in each campaign.
But the lefty’s performance early in the season has left a lot to be desired since the start of 2008. Lester entered the season 3-5 with a 4.58 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP (his worst in any month) in 16 career starts during the month of April.
Friday’s outing will not help those numbers, and it raises the possibility of Lester posting yet another disappointing start to his season.
Here are Lester’s numbers in the first month of the season over the last three years:
2008: 1-2, 4.31 ERA (Lester allowed 4 ER in 4.0 IP during one start in March that year)
2009: 1-2, 5.40 ERA
2010: 1-2, 4.71 ERA
Each time Lester has struggled out of the gate, he’s recovered in the remaining five months to pitch with consistent effectiveness and poise. Last year, he entered the final week of the season as a candidate for the AL Cy Young award.
But there is something about the first month of the year that Lester can’t seem to solve, and Friday was not a step in the right direction.
The left-hander allowed five earned runs in five and a third innings without recording a single strikeout in Texas, his first start without a K since April 9th, 2008.
If his history was any different, this would be an alarming outing, but instead, it’s merely another rough outing in a string of rough outings for Lester in April.
The majority of Red Sox Nation couldn’t wait for April.
As usual, Lester can’t wait for May.