Guest Post: Alex Walsh analyzes Jon Lester's 3rd start and sees improvement

Editor’s Note:  Alex Walsh has written in the past for Fangraphs, MLB Trade Rumors  and the great, late Goat Riders of the Apocalypse as well as a few guest posts here at Cubs Den.  You can follow him on Twitter at @ajwalsh08  Alex wrote about Jon Lester after his first sub par start, two starts later we are still asking ourselves when we’ll see the real Lester.  Alex believes he’s getting there…

Jon Lester, pt. 3: I’ve got to admit, he’s getting better

At least, I think he is. Here is the case for that argument. Thanks to Brooks Baseball for all of this information!

1. Velocity is increasing
This one is pretty straightforward. He averaged 93.5 on the fastball yesterday, up a full mph from his two prior starts.
Lester Velo
2. He’s more deceptive
In his first two regular season starts, teams swung at nearly everything Lester threw in the strike zone, and laid off nearly everything outside of it. In his third start, that trend reversed somewhat.
Lester 3
3. His command is better
He allowed six hits, and although I can only see 5 teal squares in the graphic below, 3 of those are right on the edge of the zone — I think that makes them good pitches, although honestly I’m not 100% sure, but it makes sense.

Lester plot


— Alex Walsh

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  • Said after his last start, and I still say after this one, I don't see any cause for alarm. Velocity is fine, stuff is fine, command is just not very good right now. If this happens in June, no one blinks in eye. He didn't have a normal spring. If he is still struggling in 2-3 weeks I'll start to worry a little.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Posted this is the game thread a couple hours ago. But it's relevant and compelling, so I'll paste it here.

    I have a friend who is a die hard BoSox lifer. He tells me that Lester is always mediocre early in the season. Brett over at BN did some surface level digging and came away with the same conclusion... Lester is very average in April/May. He was this way last year too; which was the best of his career.

    Might be something for the stat heads to do some comprehensive digging on. Paging Mr Moody....

    Either way, I'm not going to worry yet.... When you add in the dead arm issues of ST, we may not see vintage Lester for 4 or 5 more starts...

  • Thank you for sharing. Interesting data for sure. Hopefully we don't have to continue to search so deep for positive news.

  • pimentel busy throwing bp to the okc team right now. it's probably a good thing they added an additional arm to the staff before the game today.

  • fb_avatar

    If I hear anyone say, wait until next year because we'll be really good then I might start to cry. Partially from joy, but mostly from frustration with that phase being said nearly every April since I started being a Cubs fan.

    I'm not worried about Lester, but the bullpen looks pretty tired already only 10 games into the season. We need the Grimm Reaper back ASAP.

  • In reply to Brian Steiner:

    until we get our starters putting in a reliable 7 each time, and considering Edwin Jackson is nothing more than the shell-shocked colonel sitting at the end of the bar puffing on his pipe, having 13 pitchers is a necessity. At some point we're going to have to cut the cord on Castillo. I figured Friday's game would be the last start he ever got in a Cubs uniform, considering the 'framing issues' that indirectly led to all the runs given up that day.

  • It seemed that Lester seldom came inside yesterday. But, more concerning to me was his failure to get and stay ahead in the count. His babip is exceedingly high at .434 and that should definitely come down. However opponents are LHB are .474 vs Jon.

    I'm looking forward to his first start on the road. He needs to get thru the first 3 innings without damage.

  • In reply to tharr:

    He doesn't have the feel for the cutter yet. That's why he isn't going inside enough.

  • I'm sure he will earn his salary

  • The other thing that will start to be quantified is how the scoreboards will start to effect how the stadium plays. Croomer said on the radio was making a point of saying that with the wind blowing in the scoreboards are changing the wind pattern and the balls are carrying different than before. Because it was radio, I didn't have the luxury of seeing Montero's HRs.

    Any big design firm would run wind tunnel analysis especially on projects like this. So I am curious to see if this wind phenomenon is real, and if so, how did this affect the FO this past offseason?

  • Off topic, but I couldn't pass this up. Here is a link to a Kris Bryant Red Bull commercial which could be called "Down on the farm." If this has already been posted, my apologies.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    It was an epic concept: I would of had him doing a few more awkward barnyard things and had less time devoted to meatballs trying to speak about chicaguh baseball, and yes I do include Billy Corgan

  • Speaking of Bryant. After his debut, I really started to notice how many 2 strike changeups that Alcantera Soler and Bryant are seeing. Bryant seems to have already made a change looks like Soler will have to do the same and Alcantera needs sometime in the minors to fix his. Has anybody else noticed this or has been going on all year or was it just the san diego pitchers?

  • OT, but John is #1!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Haha! I try not to talk about that often, but it was another great week for us, maybe the best ever. 28 of the top 50 posts are from Cubs Den.

    I just keep grinding away and writing the best articles I can -- as do all of our writers, but it is nice to get some recognition like that, so thanks to all of for your support and readership.

  • HA! The goatriders get a mention this time!

    I do look forward to when Lester finally does feel comfortable with the Cubs. I simply cannot believe he will continue in this manner

  • Cubs the only game in town.....before, during and after THE game....

    Thanks to all who share their talent, insight, knowledge and love for this team, here!

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