There have been few disappointments for the Red Sox in this stellar 2013 bounce back season, but that does not mean everything has gone to plan.
The one-two punch of Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester combined for a disastrous 2012, both posting ERAs north of 4.50 and winning just 20 games compared to 22 defeats.
But, things changed for the better early in 2013.
Whatever went awry before had been subdued. Lester jumped out to a 6-0 start with a 2.72 ERA and Bucholz did even better. The 28-year-old also won his first six decisions, but with a downright filthy 1.01 ERA, and continued his torrid play by upping his record to 9-0 before injuries beset his season.
Despite Bucholz' absence, it still appeared the Sox had one ace pitcher to solidify the front end of the rotation. Yet, without warning, Lester rapidly regressed.
The 29-year-old gave up two runs or less six times in his first nine starts, but in his last 10, he has accomplished this feat but once. Accordingly, Lester's ERA has skyrocketed nearly two full runs, moving up from that 2.72 all the way to his current 4.60.
With all of this in mind, the guys on The Baseball Show tackled a simple question: Is Lester overrated?
Bob Neumeier, Lou Merloni and the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley were the panel for this issue.
Buckley preferred to point out that Lester's previous work can't be ignored.
"He's not what he was. But, you can't argue for what he did for 4-5 years. He was never an 8-inning guy, he was never a horse," Buckley said. "You can't argue with the .730 winning percentage whatever he had over that 4-5 year period. Look at hits per inning, strikeouts to walks, he had good numbers."
Merloni, at first, was more blunt in his assessment.
"Is he overrated? Right now, if you think he's good, then yes he is because right now he hasn't been the last year-and-a-half."
Overall, though, the former major leaguer did not believe this extrapolated to Lester's whole experience with the Red Sox.
"Is his career overrated? I don't think so. Forget about the wins and losses, I'll throw those things out. If you woke up September 6, 2011 and thought Jon Lester was an ace and thought he was an 'oh-no I don't want to face that guy', you were absolutely right," Merloni said. "From about mid-May 2009 to September 5, 2011, [he had] 83 consecutive starts with a 2.79 ERA, that is not a fluke."
Click on the link above to view everything this trio had to say about the curious case of Jon Lester.