Jon Lester is back, and not just because of his 8.1 shutout innings, but because of his past three starts.
Why the past three starts? Lester’s cutter is back to being a dominant pitch.
Lester’s cutter has been a source of trouble this season. In his 23 starts prior to August 8, Lester threw his cutter an average of over 25 times a game. In that time, opponents were hitting .301 against his cutter and slugging .509.
In his three starts since August 8 he has only averaged almost 17 cutters a game, but they have been much more effective. Opponents are hitting just .214, and slugging only .286.
Lester’s out pitch for much of his career has been his cutter, and with this improvement in effectiveness, things are looking up for the Boston Red Sox pitcher. But in addition to his cutter being more effective, his fastball velocity has been improved over the past three starts.
His average velocity on his fastball was 93.37 MPH in his starts prior to August 8, but it has jumped up to 93.95 MPH in the last three starts. The past three starts are also the first time Lester has strung three consecutive starts together where he has thrown ten or more pitches of at least 95 MPH.
All of these numbers are just another way of saying Lester just might be getting right just at the right time. With him rounding into form and Clay Buchholz looking good in his rehab, the Red Sox just might have the 1-2 punch they need to make a deep run in October.