So much for Jon Lester’s last start, which was of an impressive quality, being a harbinger of good pitching things to come. Unable to build on the proficiency he displayed just five days previous to Monday’s contest against the Seattle Mariners, Lester instead reverted back to the mediocre form he has displayed for most of the last month and a half. The result of his deficiencies in pitching on Wednesday led in a significant way to the 11-4 defeat the Red Sox suffered.
At least Lester has been consistent in his mediocrity this season. Regardless of which game in which he is pitching poorly, he usually displays a lack of acumen in the same areas, most notably preventing hits and runs.
His appearance on Monday was no exception. In 5.0 innings of work, Lester surrendered nine hits to the Mariners and then floundered when it came to stranding base runners. His left on base percentage of 62.5 percent denoted a pitcher who was very much unsuccessful in doing his job. The five earned runs he allowed were very much a result of his middling pitching during the highest leveraged at-bats of the contest.
Not only did his disastrous attempts to foil the Mariners hitters wreak havoc upon his own earned run statistics, but they also did irreparable damage to the win expectancy of the Red Sox. Although he only threw for 5.0 innings, Lester still accumulated a win probability added of -0.334, which accounted for almost all of the losing efforts of the Red Sox.
Additional losing contributions came from the pitching arms of relievers Alex Wilson and Jose De La Torre, who followed Lester’s example of paltry pitching. Both relievers conceded three earned runs apiece, graciously making sure that the Mariners had nothing to fear from a Red Sox comeback, and achieved, in an ironic sense, a win probability added of -0.138.
The three Red Sox pitchers faced 45 batters while the Red Sox hitters had 40 plate appearances, but the pitching easily outpaced the hitters in terms of causing the team to lose on Monday. Those 40 plate appearances saw the hitters combined to hit .278 BA/.350 OBP/.333 SLG with a .310 wOBA for a win probability added of -0.028. The hitters were not blameless in the Red Sox defeat, but they were definitely not as complicit in the loss as the pitchers.
It was bad enough for the Red Sox when just Lester was pitching poorly, but if his pitching is going to start infecting the rest of the pitching staff, the club will have a serious problem to contend with. Monday’s game demonstrates the miserable outcomes that would result from such an infestation.