You know what's the best way to solve a long stretch of losing? Taking a trip to Fenway to face the Red Sox. What kind of odds could one get on the O's sweeping the three-game set? 20-1? 50-1? 100-1? 1,000-1? Now, the Sox are 6-9 and starter Jon Lester isn't exactly pitching like a Cy Young candidate (and O's starter Jeremy Guthrie kind of is - way down ballot). Still; how about a friendly internet wager? Which Boston player (if any) will drive in more runs in the series than the Orioles? Leave guesses in the comments, and the winner gets an awesome prize! (No line-ups today.)
He's off to a rough start in 2010 after a fantastic 2009, with fewer K's and way more walks so far.
Lester looks like he's mostly scrapped the slider so far this year, and has added the two-seamer (which might be responsible for his bump in groundball rate). He throws hard, gets good movement on all varieties of fastball, and they're difficult pitches to hit. The change has a lot of sink on it and is a good offering; the curve isn't the biggest bender, but has been very hard to put a bat on. Make no mistake; even with with the 8.44 ERA, Lester has great stuff and is one of the better pitchers in baseball.
Jeremy's strike-out rate is up to 2007, and his walk rate is way down. Perhaps because he's getting batters to chase over 33% of pitches out of the strike-zone. Contact rate is still high against him though, so the K's may become less frequent once hitters start laying off all those sliders (which he's throwing over 35% of the time thus far). Home run rate's low given all the flyballs too. But he's still deserves better than his 0-2 record.