Red Sox hope for resolution on Jon Lester extension before Opening Day

13 Comments

The Red Sox formally announced a contract extension with slugger David Ortiz last night. Could a deal with left-hander Jon Lester be next?

Well, maybe. According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said today that the two sides remain in touch about an extension and that he hopes for a resolution on the situation before Opening Day.

“Right now, we’re focused on the conversation this week and trying to resolve it, one way or another,” said Cherington, “without getting into the season. Hopefully, we’re all reasonable enough people that if it made sense (to keep talking), we could reconsider next weekend. But that’s not the thinking right now.”

Lester is currently due to become a free agent next offseason as part of a field which also projects to include Max Scherzer, James Shields, and former teammate Justin Masterson. The 30-year-old has previously said that he would be willing to take a discount to stay with Boston, but chances are it will likely take something in the range of five years and $100 million in order to make it happen.

Lester is coming off a resurgent season in which he posted a 3.75 ERA and 177/67 K/BB ratio over 213 1/3 regular season innings. He was also an important part of the team’s World Series run, putting up a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

Elsa/Getty Images
1 Comment

World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.