When I watch Jon Lester, I see a unique left-handed pitcher. Traditionally, most lefties are softer throwers and if you see a guy throwing 90 MPH’s it’s usually an exception to the rule. The traditional lefty is a guy who throws mid-80’s – look at guys now like Tom Glavine or Jamie Moyer and throughout history with guys like Bruce Hurt, John Tudor and Fernando Valenzuela – they relied on a change-up that floated away from right handed hitters or a fastball that tailed away. So when someone like Lester comes along it changes the whole mental approach of how to hit a left-handed pitcher. Now all of a sudden he’s coming in on your hands and sinking that fastball. He has changed how a batter approaches a lefty pitcher. And when you start throwing 95 MPH like Randy Johnson you’re getting into that category where you just haven’t seen lefties throughout history like that. When you throw 95 AND you can throw a cutter in on the hands and a slider like Lester does and still be able to hit the outside corner against a right-handed batter, you’ve got the complete package.
I think his unique ability – pinpoint control, assortment of pitches – set him apart from most pitchers in today’s game.