The Red Sox rotation has been a failure the past few seasons, but this season provides the rattled rotation an opportunity for redemption.
John Farrell has unofficially announced Lester as the Opening Day starter, telling reporters to look at the way the rotation has been set up. This leaves Lester on the rubber for the first game of the season. Lester was in this same position the last two years, losing both contests. A lot has happened since that first start, including the epic 2011 collapse. Along with the team, Lester has seemingly declined. His lopsided record and bloated ERA seemingly showed that Lester was not capable of taking on the role of the ace. But the volatile environment of the Sox clubhouse made it difficult for anyone to succeed. Since then the root of the problem has been chopped off and shipped to LA. The Sox can finally focus on winning, an environment Lester should thrive in.
The corrupt clubhouse wasn’t the only reason for Lester’s decline though. Something was off in his mechanics. He let up a career high 25 homers last year. Why? The problem was Lester was not locating his fastball, and he was paying for it. His velocity was still there and his breaking pitches were still effective, but you can’t leave heat over the plate in the Majors. Lester has been working on this with his manager in spring training and there has been noticeable improvement. Lester has been consistently keeping the ball down by adjusting his mechanics to throw more downhill. The result is easy ground ball outs and reduced fly outs. This all bodes well for the Sox apparent ace that will be looking for a bounce back season.