Can John Farrell fix Jon Lester?
There is a reason that Boston was so adamant about bringing Farrell back to Fenway Park and it certainly was not because of his stellar job he did in Toronto. No, the key point on Farrell’s resume is the three years he spent under Terry Francona as the Red Sox pitching coach, holding the role from 2007 through 2010.
And there should be no one more excited about the addition than Red Sox “ace” Jon Lester.
“I think it’s a good thing,’’ Lester said. “He helped mold me into the pitcher I am, the player I am. My work ethic, the work I do between starts, he really helped mold all of that.?
Lester undoubtedly enjoyed his most success under the tutelage of John Farrell. From 2007-2010, Lester was 50-23, with 6 complete games, 2 shut-outs, 1 no-hitter, 602 strike-outs, and a 1.235 WHIP. In the two years since Farrell’s departure, it has been a completely different story, punctuated by a horrendous 2012 campaign that saw his ERA rise by nearly a run and a half, his strike-out rates fall for the third consecutive season, and the lefty failed to post a winning record for the first time as a full-time starter.
But Farrell’s influence should bode well beyond just Lester. Clay Buchholz, John Lackey (who returns from Tommy John surgery in the spring), and lefty Felix Doubront could all benefit from working with Farrell.
The key will be the staff that Farrell builds around him. Bobby Valentine’s struggles as the manager in 2012 were exasperated by the fact that he did not fully trust his coaching staff and the players themselves were unable to get comfortable with them. Being able to build a strong rapport with the pitching staff is key to getting this group back on track.
It will be a long road for Farrell and the Red Sox to ride out, and it would be unfair for the team and its fans to expect an instant turnaround. Still, Boston did not pursue Farrell to have him sit back and watch things develop around him. They picked him up because of his familiarity with the club and they are hoping that helps trigger some immediate results, namely with the pitching staff.
Jon Lester is the key to that staff and to the Red Sox returning to some form of competitiveness. Another season like 2012 will not benefit anyone and will ultimately get the skeptics in Boston beating their drums again.