Jon Lester Stabilizes Rotation Amid News of Josh Beckett’s Injury, Eases Burden for Bullpen

by NESN Staff

June 16, 2012

Jon Lester Stabilizes Rotation Amid News of Josh Beckett's Injury, Eases Burden for BullpenThe weight of the rotation fell on Jon Lester's shoulders on Saturday.

With the news that Josh Beckett was headed to the disabled list — due to shoulder inflammation — the pitching staff was undergoing some chaos. With reliever Franklin Morales making his first start since 2009, there were questions about his longevity.

Amid all the obstacles, Lester came to the rescue and alleviated the burden in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Cubs. The lefty tossed 6 2/3 frames and surrendered just seven hits and three runs while striking out eight batters.

After his recent string of starts in June, Lester is seemingly turning the corner for the Red Sox. For the month, he's struck out 21 and issued just four walks while owning a 2.29 ERA, an improvement upon his 4.65 ERA for the month of April.

There were hiccups along the way in Saturday's outing. Despite flummoxing the Cubs through six innings, Lester unraveled in the seventh, yielding a three-run shot to Luis Valbuena that trimmed the score to one run.

Although Lester was yanked soon thereafter, his efficiency and effectiveness eased the pressure for the bullpen. Scott Atchison recorded an out before giving way to Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves — who each threw an inning — to retire the rest.

As a result of Lester's prolonged performance, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will have a bevy of bullpen arms at his disposal on Sunday just in case Morales can't eat up the innings.

For the time being, Lester's strong outing should stabilize the rotation, one that's seen a facelift in recent weeks. From Daniel Bard's demotion to Daisuke Matsuzaka's re-adjustment to major league action, the team's concerns have been piling.

On a night where the distress around the rotation reached a climax, Lester calmed the storm and stepped up as the ace.
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