Who would have thought that last year’s World Series Champion Boston Red Sox would fall so far from grace in just one season?
While overpaid, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury‘s absence from this Red Sox lineup has impacted them big time. There is no coincidence that with Ellsbury at the top of the lineup last season, the Red Sox were first in the entire league in runs scored and now, just one year later, without him the Red Sox are dead last in the AL in runs scored. Even the lowly newcomers to the AL, the Houston Astros, have scored more runs this season than the Red Sox.
But Ellsbury is gone now and there is nothing the Red Sox can do about that. They can however do something about impending free agent and ace of the Red Sox pitching staff Jon Lester who is only 9-7 this season but has an ERA of just 2.92, obviously due to an extreme lack of run support.
Lester has been on the Red Sox his entire nine-year career so you know the team and the city of Boston will play a role in his decision whether to stay or leave next season. But if this season is any indication, Lester has very little reason to stick around.
Take this afternoon’s game for example. Yes, the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 but Lester pitched eight great innings, surrendering just five hits, no earned runs, no walks, and striking out seven — yet he got a no-decision. It was because of a fielding error in the third inning that led to two Orioles runs scoring, preventing Lester from getting his 10th win of this season.
All season long Lester has either picked up no-decisions or losses because of fielding mistakes or lack of run support and it has to be wearing on him. The lack of Ellsbury at the top of that lineup is coming back to bite the Red Sox as it has resulted in a lackluster offense and a frustrated pitching staff.
The best part is that Lester may not even get a chance to decide whether he wants to stay with the Red Sox or not. With the way the Red Sox season is going, eight games out of first place and just a little over a week away from the All-Star Game, the Red Sox may be so far out of playoff contention by the trade deadline that they may decide to trade Lester for some hitting prospects.
At the start of this season, I thought it was a no-brainer that Lester was going to stay with the Red Sox. But the way this season is unfolding, not only are they giving him little reason to stick around, he might not even have a choice when all is said and done.