With his 11 strike outs against the Phillies tonight, Jon Lester became the first lefty in Red Sox history to record double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive starts.
If a casual observer looked at Lester's 5-5 record and 5.09 ERA coming into tonight's game, he/she would be unimpressed. He or she would also be fooled. After a slow start this spring, Lester has been absolutely scorching as of late.
In his last three starts, Lester's line looks like this:
Innings / start 7.1
Earned Runs 3
Though his overall numbers obscure it, Lester's recent outings portray him as the burgeoning ace the Red Sox were sure they had in their rotation to start this season.
Going back to last year, Lester's growth and development has been remarkable. Gone are the days when he would throw 100 pitches in five or so innings, burdening himself by walking multiple batters along the way.
When Lester takes the mound these days, the Red Sox, and their fans, expect certain victory. Lester appears unfazed by this and seems immune to pressure. His confidence appears to be sky high, as well it should be, He's once again proving himself to be a stopper and a winner.
Though he didn't get the win (thanks to a Ryan Howard blast off Ramon Ramirez), Lester lowered his ERA to 4.76 and now has 96 Ks this season.
The 25-year-old actually appears to get stronger as the game goes on. Hopefully that same attribute will hold true as the season grinds on. A healthy and potent Lester will make all the difference to the Red Sox in October.