Changing places: Assessing the Fantasy impact of Lester-Cespedes
Billy Beane got up early Thursday morning and shocked the baseball world by acquiring Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes. Chris Towers takes a look at how the cross-country deal will effect Fantasy owners.
The first big domino of trade deadline day went down with a bang Thursday morning, as the Athletics shook up the pennant race yet again by trading outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for starting pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes. The Red Sox, rightly recognizing their window to defend the title had slammed shut, moved impending free agent Lester to Oakland, where Billy Beane is trying to pry open their own championship window as wide as it can go right now.
For Fantasy owners, this is obviously a move with major implications. Both players are owned and started in nearly all leagues, and the good news for AL-only owners is that neither player changed leagues in the deal. Beyond, that, however, there is a real chance this will impact both players' Fantasy value in a big way for the remainder of the season.
Lester has been one of the league's best pitchers this season, after a couple of down seasons. It comes at a great time for the impending free agent, who owns a 1.78 ERA over his last 11 starts and can now head into free agency without draft pick compensation attached to him.
The move west should be good for Lester's Fantasy value, as he has won just one of his four starts during the month of July, despite allowing just three earned runs in all. A move from the American League's cellar to its best team -- and best offense -- will obviously give Lester more chances to rack up wins, and the change in his home address is unlikely to have much of an impact on his actual performance on the mound.
Lester has been slightly better on the road than at home in his career, but it is a difference of just 0.10 on his ERA. He also has a 3.52 career ERA at O.Co Coliseum, compared to a 3.59 mark at Fenway; both parks rate near the middle of the pack in influencing run-scoring this season, so don't expect much to change there.
Cespedes, on the other hand, could be helped greatly by the change in his home park. Though he isn't a dead-pull hitter by any means (10 of his 17 home runs this season have gone to left field), the short wall in left field could help Cespedes anyways. According to Katron.org's Ball-in-Play tool, Cespedes has had nine batted balls in play at the Oakland County Coliseum fall short of home runs that actually went deeper than Fenway's dimensions.
The one issue for Cespedes this year is that he goes from a stacked lineup to one of the American League's worst. Still, you know most of Cespedes' value comes in the form of his prodigious power, and Fenway is a better place for right-handed hitters to crank them out than Oakland.
Lackey has settled in nicely as a mid-3's ERA pitcher since returning from Tommy John surgery, and he should continue to be that for the Cardinals. Though Busch Stadium rates as a better scoring environment than Fenway this season, it has not historically been a bad place for pitchers. Add in the move from the American League East to the National League Central, and this should be a move that works out very well in Lackey's favor.
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