With the acquisition of Jon Lester, it’s abundantly clear that the A’s are all in this year. Have your opinions on the trade and how things will eventually play out on the diamond. But looking at this purely from a fantasy point of view, I like it.
Just to be very clear, I like it — just not sure that I love it. Based on perception, switching from Fenway to O.Co would be a huge upgrade for pitchers but with Lester, that hasn’t really been the case.
Jon Lester, Career Splits
Again, it’s an upgrade, but his history hasn’t exactly shown that it’s a massive upgrade. Certainly for the rest of the season, I don’t see Lester dramatically improving his ERA of 2.52 a whole heck of a lot just with the move.
Here’s where things get interesting, though. Fantasy owners should expect a nice uptick in everyone’s favorite category, the win.
The A’s lead the league in runs scored, with 535. That may take a dip with the loss of Yoenis Cespedes, but they still feature one of the deeper offenses in the game. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have scored 412 runs, which is 25th in the league. That works out to more than one run per game.
But in today’s game, pitchers don’t often complete games. So, run support is only one part of getting a win. Even if a pitcher leaves with a win, someone has to hold the lead. The A’s bullpen ERA checks in at 2.93, good enough for fifth in the league. The Red Sox aren’t bad, coming in at 13th in the league, but the gap between 2.93 and 3.51 is not a small one.
Lester is currently on pace to win 15 games and with the upgrade in run support and bullpen, I think we can bump that number up to about 17 or 18. It may not seem like a massive upgrade, but one or two wins at the end of the year could make a difference.
Again, there’s no doubt this is an upgrade. It’s worth stating again that expecting his ERA to drop significantly from 2.52 would be incredibly optimistic, but there’s absolutely no reason to think that his overall fantasy value will do anything but go up.
For the take on the other part of this trade, read Nash’s take on how Yoenis Cespedes will do in Boston.