Jon Lester and Ubaldo Jimenez: Two Aces, Two Similarly Poor Opening Day Results
If you are a fan of pitching, then the first two days of the baseball season are for you. They are the only two games of the year where you are guaranteed to see each team’s best.
I was expecting big things from these two, but both had similarly disappointing performances on Friday afternoon.
Here are there pitching lines from Friday:
I’ll start with Lester’s performance.
I really wonder if Lester has been hanging around Josh Beckett too much. Every now and then, Beckett goes to the mound and just looks ticked off at the world. He’s surly and looks extra annoyed when the littlest things happen.
That was Lester on Friday, minus the F bombs that Beckett will drop every five minutes.
Lester went to the mound, and from the first pitch of the game, looked annoyed and ticked off at the world. He was probably really ticked off when Ian Kinsler took him deep on the second pitch of the game.
Lester didn’t strike out a batter in his five-plus innings of work, and considering his lack of velocity and zip on his fastball, this isn’t surprising. Lester averaged 93 mph on his fastball in 2010. Against the Rangers, he averaged just 91 mph.
It seemed to me that his game plan was to pitch to contact and try to reserve as many bullets as possible. I guess that might explain why Lester induced only four swings and misses.
Last year, 10.3 of Lester’s strikes were swings and misses. That number dropped to 8.2 on Friday.
Lester has always been a slow starter. Friday’s start was especially slow.
Now on to Jimenez.
I would be more concerned with Jimenez’s performance than Lester’s. Jimenez had nothing, and I mean NOTHING on Friday. According to the PitchFX tool, Jimenez averaged 93 mph on his fastball.
I am not sure what gun they use to compile their data (usually very, very accurate), but I watched a majority of that game and Jimenez was around 88-91 all game. Last year, he averaged 96 mph on his fastball.
That is a massive drop off in velocity. That’s a "something is wrong with my shoulder" drop off.
Like Lester, it seemed like Jimenez was trying to pitch to contact. For his career, Jimenez throws about 60 percent fastballs. On Friday? Only around 30 percent.
That tells me he had zero confidence in his fastball. For a guy who had one of the dominant fastballs in baseball last year (30 wFB on his fastball), that seems puzzling to me.
I am not sure what happened to either of these pitchers on Friday. Baseball has a long season, so maybe they were just trying to pace themselves. But on a day when we were expecting to see aces in Texas and Colorado, neither Lester or Jimenez pitched like one.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg
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