|Born: 01/07/1984 (Age: 30)|
|Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
|Height: 6-4||Weight: 240|
|Stands tall, uses height well; gets good extension towards the plate; smooth delivery, no urgency whatsoever, same tempo throughout; lands soft on right leg; repeats mechanics exceptionally well; finishes facing plate, in good fielding position;|
|Arm Angle||High 3/4|
|Present Role||Years expected to
perform at current level
|7; no.1/2 starter||3-4||Same as present. At age 30, Lester has no projection left in his game, but there is no reason to believe he can't maintain his current level of success for 3-4 more years. Even at that point, he should remain a highly effective pitcher into his late-30's, based on his command, ability to spin the ball, and ability to change speeds. Even with diminished skills, he should still be a role six or high role five pitcher, even at the end of what will be a long contract.|
|Pitch Type||Present Grade||Sitting Velocity||Peak Velocity||Report|
|Fastball||55||92-93||Pitch has above-average velocity for a left-hander, but not premium-level; plays up a grade because of pinpoint command; four-seam variety does not feature much downward movement; generates more fly balls than ground balls; used pitch less and less frequently as season progressed.|
|Cutter||70||88-90||Primary fastball; doesn't lose much velocity from four-seamer to cutter; pitch has plus-plus movement, running in on right-handed hitters; comfortable throwing it to either side of the plate and to batters of either hand; will run it in on the hands of right-handed hitters or throw it backdoor for called strikes; highly effective pitch against right-handers.|
|Sinker||60||91-93||Two-seam fastball/sinker that he goes to in double-play situations; features good sinking action, highly effective at generating ground balls and initiating weak contact; doesn't throw the pitch often but has it when he needs it.|
|Curveball||65||75-77||Most effective swing-and-miss pitch; features 11-to-5 movement with hard downward break; will throw it in any count to any hitter; uses it effectively against right-handed hitters on the outside portion of the plate.|
|vs LHH||vs RHH|
|Swing / Miss||9.34%||9.74%||16.41%||6.15%||12.50%||6.20%||13.29%||19.00%||2.42%||19.51%|
* Only showing top 5 pitches by pitch count. Stats are for the 2014 season
Lester is an extreme strike thrower whose walk rate has declined for six straight years and got under the 2.0 BB/9 mark this season, though he's not afraid to work from behind in the count. His first pitch strike percentage was 61.4 percent on the season, only slightly above the league average of 60.6 percent and lower than you'd expect for a pitcher as stingy with free passes as Lester was this season. He features primarily a fastball/cutter/curveball repertoire but keeps hitters off-balance because he will throw any pitch at any time and throws them all for strikes. The result is a lot of weak contact and a large number of called strikes.
Everything you'd want from a number one starter. Works quickly, keeps teammates engaged. Projects confidence on the mound.
Command, throws a ton of strikes. Mixes pitches exceptionally well; will throw any pitch at any time. Has pitched in every possible scenario so he's well-versed in pressure situations. Handled large market very well.
Nothing glaring. Doesn't have a major swing-and-miss pitch to lean on in a situation where a strike out is absolutely necessary.
|Means of Exploitation|
Attack him early in the count. He's going to throw strikes so you know he'll be around the plate, but once he gets ahead of you, he has too many weapons to attack hitters with. The best bet is to jump on anything hard early before he sets the hitter up.
Lester is a premier pitcher, good enough to anchor just about any rotation in the majors. He is as durable and consistent as any pitcher in baseball. He still has a few years left of his prime, but even after that, he should remain a competent big league starter, though likely not one worthy of the contract he will receive on the free agent market. Still, in the generally ill-advised free agent landscape, Lester is as sure of a bet as will be available.
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