Jon Lester Player Projection No. 36

Key Stats: If there was ever a pitcher to have his diet scrutinized it should have been David Wells or C.C. Sabathia or Bob Wickman. Jon Lester doesn’t deserve it looking at his frame, but this off-season it’s all Red Sox Nation has been talking about. In terms of fantasy baseball, so what? Lester has averaged 16 wins a 3.33 ERA 1.24 WHIP and 196 strikeouts over the last four years. He’s only going to be 28 this year.

Skeptics Say: Lester has been historically very bad in the month of April. His WHIP is higher in that month than any other. Starting slow again this season could lead to greater pressure given all the questions about his character at the end of last season. It will be important for Lester to come out of the gates hot to start this year.

Peer Comparison: Before spending a late first round pick on Roy Halladay, consider the consistency that Lester has brought season after season again. Here are Halladay’s  average numbers over the last four seasons: 19 wins 2.59 ERA 1.07 WHIP 213 K. Not surprisingly, he is better than Lester across the board. It’s why he deserves to be taken as a first rounder. Keep in mind though, Halladay is seven years older than Lester. For keeper leagues searching for a consistent player that can earn wins Lester or Cole Hamels would be my choice over Halladay by 2014.

Team Outlook: Carl Crawford has acknowledged that players from other teams would come up to him and say that it didn’t make sense that he was hitting so low in the order. Crawford clearly has beef with the Red Sox – not a good sign for a team trying to turn the page on last season. Their captain Jason Varitek (whom some people claim was part of the problem last year) is officially gone now, but Lester might not be the best candidate for a leadership role at this time.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #17 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #14 Starting Pitcher & #51 Overall; Yahoo: #7 Starting Pitcher & #30 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #13 Starting Pitcher & #68 Overall; RotoChamp: #96 Overall

Projection: A motivated Jon Lester will get back over 200 innings this year and notch 20 wins.
20 wins 3.35 ERA 1.22 WHIP 212 K in 219 innings