Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester got roughed up yet again in Monday’s game against the Seattle Mariners. He now has a season ERA up to 4.60 with no real signs of it getting any better, but the struggles can be tied to a single pitch.
Lester’s troubles are due, in large part, to the lack of effectiveness from his cutter. In 2013, batters are hitting 53 points higher on his cutter than the rest of his career, and the slugging percentage is an incredible 153 points higher.
He has been getting swings and misses at a much lower rate, 9.4 percent, compared to 14.35 percent in his career leading into this season. The ball is leaving the ballpark at a clip nearly three times as often as his career average.
Even more concerning than the success hitters are having against his cutter is the fact he is throwing it more often than he his career average. So, the pitch that has become completely ineffective for Lester has actually become a pitch he is throwing more often than ever before.
If Lester is going to turn his season around, he has to rely more heavily on his change up and fastball until his cutter comes back around. He throws his change just 15 percent of the time against right handed batters compared to the 26 percent of pitches that are cutters. Opposing hitters are hitting just .200 on his change up. His fastball has been effective this season too, with hitters getting hits at a .215 clip.
Lester will likely start Saturday in the O.co Coliseum when the Red Sox visit the Oakland A’s. That ballpark can hide plenty of mistakes, so don’t get too excited if he has a good outing there. Until Lester fixes the root of the problem with his cutter, he won’t be a guy that can be successful every fifth day.