Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Game 4: The Three Start Rule

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Oakland Athletics 0

A bold statement, if you're willing: the Jon Lester on the mound today was the Jon Lester who danced into our consciousness in 2005 as Boston's top-rated prospect, the leader of the young guns movement that's revitalized the Red Sox pitching staff. To be sure, his control wasn't perfect - three walks remain, as ever, a sign of danger - and he had some help from his defense, most notably in the form of a fantastic catch by J.D. Drew, but it seemed today that like Matsuzaka yesterday, when Lester missed his spots, he didn't miss them by much. Equally as encouraging, his escapes by three (count 'em) double plays didn't have the heart-failure-inducing super tension of his usual flirtations with disaster; instead, Lester made each groundball-inducing pitch seem like a natural act, an intentional portion of the baseball canon that recalled Derek Lowe in his better days.

Here's the problem, though: I'm thrilled to death about Lester's pitching this afternoon. Absolutely thrilled. You know, like a complete reversal of how I felt a week ago. I can't help but worry that I'm setting myself up for disappointment, so I've made a momentous decision: Lester's getting the Three Start Rule. I'm pretty sure I originally developed this idea after watching the roller coaster ride that was David Wells, but I haven't documented it until now. The idea is simple: as a historically shaky pitcher, Jon Lester gets "real deal" tag after three quality starts, a measurement defined either by statistics (Baseball Reference's Game Score measurement, for example) or something more subjective, like the amount of vitriol in Robin's writeup. It all depends on how I'm feeling.

So, Jon: three quality starts in row. Impress me. I want to be proven wrong.