Is Jon Lester an ace? In a word: No

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

As the intensity of the Major League Baseball season begins to heat up, the Boston Red Sox have positioned themselves as one of the favorites to claim the American League pennant.

Going forward, there are still a few question marks, none bigger than the rotation. Red Sox Nation received a minor scare when John Lackey rolled his ankle on the Minute Maid Park turf, but all indications are that he will be just fine.

Clay Buchholz is still nursing a neck injury and appears to be on track to rejoin the club in the next few weeks . Buchholz threw a 27-pitch bullpen session and a day later threw some long toss and said he felt fine.

That leaves us with Jon Lester, as the supposed ace. And there’s the question mark.
Photo courtesy of the AP

Local media outlets are already beginning to question whether or not Lester would or should be in the starting rotation this postseason. Lester began the season 6-0 and with a microscopic ERA, then proceeded to go 2-6 to finish 8-6 before the All-Star Break. Since, he has had two great starts and two sub-standard starts, including giving up three runs in the first inning of Thursday’s series opener against the Royals.

His ERA has soared to 4.37 and he is a few poor starts away from being a .500 pitcher – currently sits at 10-7. He’s not the dominant ace a World Series contender needs. If the Red Sox were to get into a playoff series with Detroit or Tampa Bay, who would start the first two games for Boston? We sure as heck know it would be Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander for the Tigers and Matt Moore and David Price for the Rays.

The Red Sox don’t have an answer right now, and that’s a problem. A major problem.

I won’t dig into my wish that the Sox had traded for Cliff Lee – a proven ace. Let’s just say, that should have happened. Rather, I will pose a challenge to the Red Sox rotation that someone needs to step up. I don’t care if it’s Felix Doubront or Ryan Dempster or the new guy, Jake Peavy. If it were Lester or Buchholz (when and if he comes back), that would make it all the better.

The concern right now is that we are going to see an inconsistent Lester the rest of the season and Buchholz won’t be the same as he was prior to his injury (9-0, 1.71 ERA).

When October rolls around, the new question Ben Cherington would have to answer is: Now what?

Like what you read? See more from Ben here.
Have a question or comment for Ben? Give him a shout on Twitter: @thebenwhitehead