Breaking Down Jon Lester's "One Bad Inning"

Take a look at Jon Lester's numbers and you just want to cringe. They're bad, they're ugly and they don't seem to be getting any better.

But if you take a deeper look, maybe Lester hasn't been that bad. But first, let's take a look at his overall numbers. Note: you may want to hide your child's eyes if they are viewing:


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jon Lester 3-5 10 10 0 0 0 0 59.1 74 40 40 11 21 62 6.07 1.60

Those certainly aren't numbers we want out of our No. 2 starter. That's not going to win the Red Sox any World Series, either.

But it's been mentioned before: Lester, for the most part, has been a victim of just one bad inning per start. Typical of Lester, he may go into the fifth or sixth inning without surrendering a run and then give up five. There goes that good game and just watch that ERA balloon.

This was just an observation, of course. But now let's actually break down those stats.

I went through all 10 games started for Lester and decided to just pretend one inning per game didn't exist. I just struck it from the record because I have that type of power. The results were quite astounding:

  • Of Lester's 40 runs surrendered this season, 77.5 percent (31 runs) came in just one inning of each game.
  • His ERA in those 10 innings of work is 27.90.
  • His ERA without those 10 innings of work is a nifty 1.65.
  • The most common inning Lester has "blown up" in is the 5th, which has happened four times. Other innings include: 4th (twice), 2nd, 6th and 7th (all once).
  • The only game in which Lester didn't "blow up" was April 19 versus Baltimore where he didn't allow any runs in seven innings of work.
  • In his bad innings, Lester has allowed five runs three times, four runs once, and three runs three times.

So it all seems to be true. Imagine having Lester with a 1.65 ERA this season. No doubt he would be a Cy Young contender and would probably have six or seven wins under his belt. Instead, the bad inning mojo has led to a 3-5 record with a 6.07 ERA.

Now we hope that in future outings Lester can keep doing what he's doing -- minus that notorious bad inning.

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