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Unlike his younger counterpart on the Tampa Bay Rays, Jon Lester isn't going to beat himself.
The longtime starter has been his staff's best pitcher since July. Lester located nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes during his final 16 outings of the season, maintaining a 2.38 BB/9 in the process and, not surprisingly, a 2.89 ERA.
The Tampa Bay Rays cannot go into Game 1 hoping that the former All-Star will tire. In 11 of 33 starts this season, Lester has thrown at least 115 pitches and, historically, his performance hasn't dipped in the later innings. Moreover, he'll take the mound on five days' rest. He has been at his best in 2013 under such circumstances.
Teams beat Lester by capitalizing on mistakes over the middle of the plate, especially early in the count. Longer plate appearances favor him because, according to Brooks Baseball, he'll diversify his pitch selection with two strikes to induce awkward swings.
Although Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara have solidified the back end of Boston's bullpen, there's certainly damage to be done against the middle relievers. They include slumping right-hander Junichi Tazawa, as well as Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront, both of whom have been used as starters.