Jon Lester until this point had been predominantly known for his Fastball, Cutter and Curveball mix. That, according to Lester is about to change (no pun intended), as he has been working on incorporating a change-up into his already effective arsenal:
"I think it's going to be a pitch like we used today," Lester said. "When guys are cheating in, drop a changeup on them and they're out in front, and swing and miss or maybe hit a loopy foul ball. It makes them honor that fastball in and it makes them not cheat so much to get there, so I can get back to my strengths -- fastball-cutter in. It adds another pitch that they have to think about in the back of their head when they get up to the plate."
Lester tested his new pitch approximately 10-15 times Sunday against the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, only giving up only one earned run over his five innings pitched.
According to the young left-hander, he had thrown the pitch last year, but only zero to one time per start on average. This year however, Lester can be expected to compliment his above average fastball with the change-up on a regular basis.
Catcher Jason Varitek is excited about the growth of Lester, who had a break out season in 2008 going 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA in his 33 games started. Varitek spoke on the new pitch recently saying:
"Well, it gives him more completeness," Varitek said. "It widens his strike zone, widens the depth of the bat. It gives him one more weapon. He's starting to get a much better feel for it. He's used it more this spring than his entire spring."
Hopefully 2009 will see Lester continue to establish himself as one of the most dominant left-handers in all of baseball, the change-up should be an important part of that.