Tag:Jon Lester
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Report: Red Sox pitchers drank beer during games

By Matt Snyder

The collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox has had significant fallout already, as manager Terry Francona is gone and general manager Theo Epstein appears to be on his way out as well.

And, since it's Boston -- just as would be the case in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. -- the local crowd is ready to place blame. Things unraveled on a team that was expected by many to win the World Series, so it's someone's fault. Well, you have Francona and Epstein. Carl Crawford was awful after signing a huge contract. John Lackey was terrible again. But there's more ...

The Boston Globe has given us several scapegoats. Let's try to sum it up -- again, this is all via Boston.com:

• Francona reportedly lost control of the team amidst problems with his health and marriage, though he took exception to the claims.

Red Sox dysfunction
“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said (Boston.com). “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’’

On the "health" front, the report painted a picture of Francona's reliance on pain-killers.

• Reportedly the Red Sox players were angry that, in late August, they were forced to play a day-night doubleheader due to Hurricane Irene and complained to management that it cared more about money than winning. After that doubleheader, the Red Sox would not win two straight games again all season.

Tim Wakefield reportedly cared more about getting his 200th win than the team overall doing well. “I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield told Fox Sports.

• Team captain Jason Varitek reportedly stopped exerting leadership in the clubhouse, while only Dustin Pedroia "and a few other players" remained fully committed to winning.

• And now the big one. The starting rotation, specifically Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and occasionally Clay Buchholz have been accused of regularly drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken while playing video games in the clubhouse during games. From the Boston.comarticle:
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.

Sources said Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, who were joined at times by Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

“It’ s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’’ one source said.

For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.
Needless to say, this isn't going to sit well with Red Sox Nation.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 12:57 pm
 

On Deck: Wild cards hinge on final day



By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

AL wild card: It's the final game of the season, and we've got two races currently tied. The first of them is the American League wild card, where the Red Sox and Rays are knotted at one apiece. Boston will send ace Jon Lester to the mound in the hopes of downing the Orioles. Lester has never lost against Baltimore, running up a 14-0 record. On the year, he has a solid 3.49 ERA but that mark is 6.97 over his last four starts, so there's concern there. He'll be opposed by Alfredo Simon. Meanwhile, down south, the Rays offer up their own ace in David Price to take down the Yankees. New York is already in the playoffs, so they could choose to rest some players and give the Rays a weaker opponent to play against. To that end, even the Yankees don't know who will be starting Wednesday night. Red Sox vs. Orioles, 7:00 p.m. ET | Yankees vs. Rays, 7:00 p.m. ET

NL wild card: Over in the NL, the Braves are new to this. The Red Sox have had an extra day to get used to the idea of falling into a tie, but Atlanta woke up Wednesday knowing the final game of the season was crucial to the playoff hunt. After all, if they lose and the Cardinals win, they're out. Fortunately, they have a pretty good pitcher heading to the hill in Tim Hudson, who will oppose Joe Blanton in what figures to be a bullpen game for Philly. On paper it's a mismatch, but the way the Braves has been playing lately is the complete opposite of St. Louis. Meanwhile, the scorching Redbirds offer up Chris Carpenter against the hapless Astros, who will send Brett Myers to the mound. Phillies vs. Braves, 7:00 p.m. ET | Cardinals vs. Astros, 8:00 p.m. ET

StrasburgNo walks: Stephen Strasburg has a very good chance to accomplish an incredible feat in his fifth and final start of the year. So far, he's walked absolutely zero batters in his 18 innings, striking out 14. That's a K/BB ratio of infinity. Thanks to the magic that is Baseball Reference's Play Index, I ran a query of all starting pitchers who had at least five consecutive starts with no walks in the millennium. There's been plenty of streaks of no walks allowed, most namely the amazing Greg Maddux who racked up two separate nine-game streaks of no walks allowed. If Strasburg gets through the game, he'll be tied with 15 others for five consecutive starts. Interestingly, Kevin Slowey accomplished the feat earlier this season, but before that you have to go back to Cliff Lee in 009, then Curt Schilling in 2006. Strasburg himself went six straight starts without a walk last season. He's opposing Chris Volstad in Jack McKeon's final game as Marlins manager. Nationals vs. Marlins, 4:10 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:25 am
 

Who would have pitched in a Wild Card playoff?



By Evan Brunell

Major League Baseball will be changing its postseason structure either for the 2012 or 2013 season, adding one wild card per league. As a result, there will be a new playoff series of just one game, which we'll call the Wild Card Game, with both wild cards per league duking it out for a winner-take-all game for the right to advance to the division series.

If this change was in effect for 2011, both the Red Sox and Rays would have won the AL wild card, although the Angels would still have made things interesting. Over in the NL, the Cardinals and Braves would both have won the honors, with the Giants making a late run for it in September. So two collapses -- one each by Boston and Atlanta -- would effectively have been negated by this rule change. (That doesn't make the rule change bad; an extra one-game playoff is always fun and you don't know what teams would have done at the trade deadline with an extra potential postseason spot.)

The Red Sox would love to avoid a playoff game with Tampa and win the wild card outright. If there is a playoff game, then the Red Sox will be forced to start John Lackey in a winner-take-all game, which would not have been the case under the new rules. You see, Jon Lester is likely to pitch on three days rest this Wednesday to give Boston the best chance at winning the wild card. Under the new rules, though, Lester's start would not have been needed as Boston would have clinched a wild-card spot after Monday night's game. That means Bedard would have pitched Tuesday as he did and a warm body would have completed Boston's season on Wednesday, probably Tim Wakefield. That would have set Lester up for the Wild Card Game, working quite nicely in Boston's favor.

The Rays, for their part, would also have clinched a spot after Monday night, knocking the Angels out. The Rays could have opted to push Jeremy Hellickson, who started Tuesday against the Yankees, back to the Wild Card Game. It's far more likely, though, that David Price would have been pushed back to Thursday instead of drawing the ball on Wednesday. So the playoff game would have seen a Lester/Price battle. Instead, if there is a playoff game, we're looking at John Lackey and Jeff Niemann. Exciting!

In the National League, the Giants were eliminated on Sunday. That would have allowed the Cardinals and Braves, respectively, to reconsider their assignments of Jaime Garcia and Randall Delgado to the mound on Monday, respectively. Delgado certainly would have started, as he likely wouldn't have drawn the ball in the playoff game or the first couple games of the division series anyways. Garcia is a possibility, but with Chris Carpenter slated to go on Wednesday, he certainly would have been pushed back to the playoff game with Garcia starting on Monday in order to line up for the division series. Tuesday's starter in Jake Westbrook wouldn't have been considered for the start.

So who would the Braves have sent up against Carpenter if not Delgado? Derek Lowe? Nope -- he's in the midst of one his worst seasons, so would have started on Tuesday to ready for a Game 3 start in the division series. As we've seen, every team's Wednesday starter has so far fit the bill for a playoff game, and that holds true for Atlanta, as Tim Hudson would have drawn the start. So we're looking at a Carpenter/Hudson matchup. Not shabby at all.

Instead of both teams having to throw their best pitchers against other teams in a battle for the wild card, these pitchers would have gone up against each other in what would have promised to be an exciting day of Wild Card Games.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 10:54 pm
 

Playoff Race: AL wild card still knotted



By Matt Snyder


It all comes down to the last day of the regular season. After 161 games, the Rays and Red Sox have the exact same record. Tampa Bay took care of business Tuesday night, and Boston followed suit. The two ballclubs couldn't have possibly had different Septembers, as the Red Sox are now 7-19 and the Rays are now 16-10 this month, but the whole season counts, and they're both 90-71 overall now.

Let's take a look at the pitching matchups for Wednesday. Remember, if the the Rays and Red Sox are still tied after Wednesday's action, a one-game playoff will be played Thursday at Tampa Bay (yes, it's in St. Petersburg, but I said Tampa Bay, not Tampa).

Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET
Jon Lester (15-9, 3.49) is going on three days' rest, which he hasn't done all season. Of course, he was knocked from the game last time out after just 55 pitches, so fatigue shouldn't be a big issue. The real problem is he's been bad the last three times out. He's sporting a 10.54 ERA while allowing opposing hitters to have a .362/.433/.569 line against him since his last win (September 6, when he was brilliant). Lester's only faced the Orioles once this season and that was all the way back in April -- he allowed just two runs in eight innings and picked up a win. He does have a great history in Camden Yards, as he's 7-0 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in nine career starts there.

Alfredo Simon (4-9, 4.85) will take the hill for the O's. The Red Sox battered him for eight hits and three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings earlier this season. It was his only career start against Boston. He has pitched better at home in his career than on the road, but this matchup still obviously favors the Red Sox. Of course, the Orioles are playing much better baseball this month (14-13) than the previous several months and anything can happen in any given game.

Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET
David Price (12-13, 3.35) gets the ball for the Rays. He's pitched much better than the won-loss record indicates. In fact, his WHIP, K/9 and BB/9 are all improved since last season, when he finished second in Cy Young voting. He hasn't been good against the Yankees this year (4.26 ERA in four starts), but last time he saw them he went eight innings and allowed just one run in a Rays' win. And there's no telling how many regular starters the Yankees rest in a meaningless game.

The Yankees don't have an announced starter yet, and it's expected to be a group outing. "Johnny Wholestaff" is the listed pitcher name in situations like this to baseball people. The Yankees have to worry about setting up for the postseason, which begins Friday, and won't be using top relievers like Mariano Rivera or David Robertson, either. Basically, you never know what's going to happen in a given baseball game, but the Red Sox had better win if they want a chance at the postseason. This one should be very winnable for the Rays.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: September 24, 2011 11:32 am
 

On Deck: Wild cards only races left

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Rain, rain, go away: Friday night's game between the Yankees and Red Sox was rained out and will hopefully be made up on Sunday. The rain is supposed to subside by game time, so let's hope there's baseball in the Bronx on Saturday. Friday's scheduled starters, Freddy Garcia for the Yankees and Jon Lester for the Red Sox, will start on Saturday. Lester is 6-1 with a 2.67 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees in New York, including 2-0 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium this season. Garcia hasn't won since Aug. 29, going 0-1 with a 10.95 ERA in his last three starts, even though the one game he picked up the L in was the best of those three starts, allowing three runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday. Red Sox at Yankees, 4:10 p.m. ET

Kyle LohseNow or never: After Friday night's loss to the Cubs and the Braves' victory over the Nationals, St. Louis' elimination number is down to three, meaning any combination of Cardinals losses and Braves wins in the final five games gives Atlanta the wild card. A loss on Saturday could end just about any hope for the Cardinals to finish off their run to the playoffs. Kyle Lohse is charged with keeping those hopes alive. In addition to his team's need for a victory, Lohse is one win shy of matching his career-high for wins, 15 set in 2008. Lohse (14-8, 3.47 ERA) has won his last three decisions and is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in his last four starts. The Cardinals also welcome back left fielder Matt Holliday, who has missed more than a week with a right hand injury. Cubs at Cardinals, 1:10 p.m. ET

Brandon BeachyJust Beachy: Braves rookie Brandon Beachy is 7-2 on the season, but the team has dropped each of his last three starts. Beachy has 18 strikeouts over his last two starts, but also eight earned runs in just 9 2/3 innings. Beachy beat the Nationals on Aug. 3, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five innings of a 6-4 Braves victory. Last time out, Washington's Chien-Ming Wang went 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins, his longest outing since 2008. Wang is 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA. Braves at Nationals, 1:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 10:04 pm
 

Playoff race: Rays take another from Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tampa Bay won't sweep in Boston, but they could win three of four against the Red Sox and head to New York just two games behind the current American League wild card leaders. With Saturday's 4-3 victory over Boston, the Rays moved to within three games of the Red Sox with a seeming mismatch of David Price against Tim Wakefield on tap for Sunday.

Ben Zobrist's two-run homer in the first set the ton for the Rays, who were able to get to Red Sox starter Jon Lester for four runs on five hits in seven innings.

Jeff Niemann lasted just five innings for the Rays, but gave up only two runs, while rookie Matt Moore -- in just his second big-league appearance -- went three big innings in relief, allowing a run on two hits. Moore, manager Joe Maddon told CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler, may just be the Rays' "wild card" in the wild card race.

Tampa Bay finishes its four-game series in Boston on Sunday before heading to New York for four more games against the Yankees. It should be noted, the Yankees' lead over the Red Sox is just 4.5 games, so things could get interesting in that race as well, if the Rays continue to play tormentor against the AL East powers.

The Angels' already slim chances seemed to be dashed with another loss in Baltimore

Boston Red Sox
87-64
Remaining schedule: 1 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 85.8 percent 

Tampa Bay Rays
84-67, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 @ BOS, 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 5.1 percent 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
82-69, 5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 0.6 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:13 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 10:15 am
 

On Deck: Lester gets another shot at Rays

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Jon LesterJeff NiemannWild card showdown, part 3: Have you heard the Rays are pressing the Red Sox for the American League wild card? And they're playing each other right now? Oh, maybe you have. Yeah, it's been covered to death, it seems, but it's still as big of a series as there is right now. Boston's win on Friday means the Rays won't leave town any closer than two games behind the Red Sox. Lefty Jon Lester takes the mound for the Red Sox, and with another victory, Boston could exhale -- at least a little. Lester was roughed up by the Rays in his last outing, as Tampa Bay recorded eight hits and four runs against him in just four innings of work. That broke a streak of five starts of allowing just one earned run or less. He's 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season. Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann's only faced the Red Sox once this season, allowing just two hits in eight shutout innings while striking out 10 on July 17. However, the Red Sox won that game, 1-0. Rays at Red Sox, 4:10 p.m. ET

Division title in sight: Both the Cardinals and the Phillies are still alive in the playoff hunt, but while the Cardinals need a lot of help, the Phillies have already clinched a playoff berth and with a win would clinch the National League East title. Of course, with a magic number of one, the Phillies could clinch the division before Roy Oswalt makes a pitch if the Braves lose their 4:10 pm. game against R.A. Dickey and the Mets at Turner Field. The Cards would welcome that as St. Louis trails Atlanta by just 3.5 games in the National League wild card race. Cardinals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

Stephen StrasburgStrasmas time again: With a combined 138-160 record, there would normally be very little reason to take notice of a September game between the Marlins and Nationals. But this isn't just any game, it's a Strasmas outing, as Stephen Strasburg makes his third start of the season. In eight total innings this season, Strasburg has allowed one run and struck out eight, allowing five hits. He has not walked a batter yet. Strasburg's last start went just three innings after throwing 31 pitches. With an extra day of rest, hopefully we'll get to see him go a little longer this time. He's scheduled to make at least one more start -- Sept. 23 against Atlanta -- and could pitch in the Nationals' last game of the season, Sept. 28 at Florida. Marlins at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 12:49 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Fister continues to impress



By Matt Snyder


Doug Fister, Tigers. When you hear people talking about teams not wanting to face the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs because you don't wanna see Justin Verlander twice in a short series, do not forget the Tigers now have a very formidable No. 2. Fister was brilliant again Sunday in a 2-1 Tigers win over the Twins, allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings. Since coming over in a trade from the Mariners in July, Fister is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, the Tigers now have a better record than the Rangers and are five games behind the Yankees for the top seed in the AL.

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies. I wonder how long before the Indians want a mulligan on that Ubaldo Jimenez trade deadline deal? Pomeranz was one of the pieces the Rockies got back and the 21-year-old lefty dazzled in his major-league debut Sunday. He needed just 63 pitches to get through five shutout innings against the Reds, picking up the victory. He gave up just two hits and two walks.

Luis Valbuena, Indians. In the past two seasons, before Sunday, Valbuena was hitting .188 with two home runs in 345 plate appearances. So it was quite shocking to see the light-hitting middle infielder knock the ball around the yard Sunday. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs scored in a 7-3 win over the White Sox.



Jon Lester, Red Sox. The Red Sox's starting rotation is in shambles, but Lester should have been the one cog -- with Josh Beckett injured -- that could be counted upon. Instead, he could only get through four innings, due to a massive pitch count, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks. The Red Sox lost 9-1, and saw their lead in the Wild Card race shrink to 3 1/2.

Tim Hudson, Braves. Like the Red Sox, the Braves are reeling and needed a big start. With Hudson taking the hill, it seemed like a good time -- considering the Braves had won six of Hudson's past seven starts. Instead, Hudson was battered for six runs and eight hits in six innings and the Braves were swept by the Cardinals. Even worse, a once-commanding Wild Card lead has shrunk to 4 1/2 games.

Major League Baseball. I usually never complain about the rigidity of professional sports leagues when it comes to rules on uniforms because of the slippery slope principle, but not allowing the Mets to wear the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD hats for Sunday night's game was a farce. You can make one exception without being worried about the precedent set.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com