ALCS 2013: Why Jon Lester is the Difference Maker for Boston Red Sox

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

It should be a good one.

This ALCS matches up two very good teams who are also very even. The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox are likely the two best offensive teams, claiming the top spots in runs scored, on-base percentage, and slugging. Not only that, but both have some top-notch pitchers who will get to pitch in multiple games. This series has a great chance to go seven games with the deciding factor being one missed play. Each team needs its stars to show up; after all, it is October.

For the Red Sox, it is Jon Lester who really needs to play well. Lester is lucky in that he gets to start Game 1 on seven days rest and at home. The seven days rest is nice, but what really seems to affect Lester is being at home. Lester’s ERA was a full run lower at home versus away this year. Lester is 7-1 at home, so the Tigers do have reason to worry.

On the other hand, the Tigers have had success against left handers like Lester, with a SLG. of .428, ranking 4th in the league. They have a lot of right handed bats in their lineup, which should further help.

All that being said, Lester has to lead the Sox to a Game 1 win.  The Red Sox have a 50-50 shot in Game 2 with Clay Buchholz starting against Max Scherzer. Buchholz has had the better year, but Scherzer has been better for longer. There can be argument over who has the advantage in Game 2, but Game 3 is where the Red Sox will have real trouble. Justin Verlander will be starting for Detriot, and he’s starting at home. That gives a large edge to the Tigers who should win Game 3. Because of that, Lester must perform. If he loses, the Red Sox likely will be down 1-2 or even 0-3 going into Game 4. That kind of deficit is hard to overcome. Luckily, if Lester loses he will likely get another shot in Game 4 or 5, but that may be too little too late.

This is a tight series and Lester will likely get two shots. Honestly, he should win both. As the Red Sox’ top guy against the Tigers’ arguably third best pitcher, the onus is on him to lead the Red Sox to those wins.

Certainly the lineup has to perform for the Red Sox and no one player determines a series, but Lester has to be the difference maker for the Red Sox if they want to win. Luckily for the Sox, Lester is a top pitcher with the necessary experience. He should dominate in Game 1, and then if he can pull out a win in his next start the Red Sox will be in great position to go to the World Series.

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Jay Cullen is  New York Giants, NFL and MLB writer for Rantsports.com. Add him on Google.

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