As the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, Jon Lester is usually the pitcher who gets the most run support. However, after losing four of his first six starts, the opposite has been the case for Lester, as the Red Sox have barely averaged two runs whenever he pitches. In order for Lester to regain his winning ways, the Red Sox offense needs to wake up and drive in more runs whenever Lester is on the hill.
Following Lester’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on April 27, Lester has a 2-4 with a 3.10 ERA and 43 strikeouts in six starts during the 2014 season. Although he is averaging just over seven strikeouts per start, his four losses are among the highest in the AL.
Even though most of the losses for the Red Sox are within one or two runs, an ace of Lester’s caliber should not be losing four games in his first six starts; the 30-year-old lefty is on pace to lose 25 games if the Red Sox offense doesn’t give him a lift in future starts. Essentially, the Red Sox need to back up their ace if they want to succeed against the toughest pitchers in the majors.
With two runs per game while Lester is the starter, the Red Sox offense has been anemic whenever their ace is on the hill. Even when facing pitchers like Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Masahiro Tanaka and R.A. Dickey, Red Sox hitters haven’t risen to the occasion, leaving runners on base and not capitalizing on early opportunities.
In Lester’s next probable start versus Tommy Milone and the Oakland Athletics on May 3, the Red Sox bats need to come alive in order for their ace to get back on the winning track.
The lack of run support is especially affecting Lester’s chances of receiving the long-term extension he has been craving from the Red Sox. Even though the Red Sox initially offered their ace a four-year, $70 million extension, Lester turned them down in the hopes that a solid 2014 campaign would help him earn a larger extension.
However, if Lester is unable to win big games like the ones he has lost this April, an extension might be far-fetched, meaning that Lester could walk into the free agent market. Since he is an important component of the Red Sox rotation, it will be important if the team can turn the ship around in order to keep their ace.
Essentially, the run support crisis surrounding Lester is one that the Red Sox need to be attentive to and correct over the next few games. If the Red Sox want to get the most out of their ace on the hill, then they need to meet him halfway by getting key hits and driving opposing aces out of the game early.
Run support is not only necessary for Lester; if the Red Sox are able to get maximum run support for all of their starters, then they will be able to hop over .500 and return to the postseason for the second consecutive season.