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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Inaugural Daily Debate:Lester vs. Beckett

It will be a daily fixture here on RedStockingsThoughts, where I will present an argument for one side of the coin, and invite any reader to share their thoughts, whether they agree or disagree, via the comment section.

This morning, as I usually do, I strolled onto ESPNBoston.com and the number one column being advertised was one posing a question of who should be the starter on Opening Day, Josh Beckett or Jon Lester. As we know, The Red Sox traded for Josh Beckett in the winter of 2005 in hopes that they had just received their ace for the foreseeable future. In 2007, he did just that, leading the team to a World Series Championship while finishing second in the Cy Young voting with a 20 win, 3.27 ERA campaign. That year, he turned 27. This is the year, traditionally, that players reach their prime and have the breakout season of their career. However, since then, because of both injuries and plain lack of command, Beckett has showed an incredible amount of regression. This culminated in last year's 6-6 season, while posting a lousy 5.78 ERA in just 21 starts and 127.2 innings. Because of this regression and the obvious toll injuries have had on this team, I don't understand how anyone could possibly be in favor of starting Beckett on Opening Day.

On the other side of this spectrum is Jon Lester. Lester is a home grown product, who got his first big break in 2006, going 7-2. Unlike Beckett, Lester is on the rise in his career, and is coming off his best season to date. All of the hype that accompanied his ascension to the majors is being realized right now. Last season, Lester posted a 3.25 ERA to go along with his 19-9 record and 225 strikeouts. The season earned Lester an All Star appearance (his first) along with a fourth place finish in the Cy Young voting (a career best finish). Furthermore, every team wants their ace to be the guy they can count on for stopping losing streaks. Well, it's impossible to do that from the disabled list. The Sox want a guy who will log innings for them, and that man is Lester. While Lester has pitched just four full years in the majors, and Beckett has pitched nine, they both have the same number of 200 inning seasons, each with three. That means Beckett has only reached the 200 inning mark in a third of his career. That's not ace-material. But perhaps I have saved my best argument for last. As I remarked earlier, the year when one typically reaches the peak of his career is at 27 years old. Guess how old Lester is going to be this year. That's right, 27 years old. For all of those reasons, Tito would be crazy to hand the ball over to ANYONE other than Jon Lester on Opening Day.

Here's to hoping I didn't completely jinx him. 

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