Jon Lester’s velocity in his opening day start was 1.5 and 3 mph slower than his overall averages from last season and 2016, respectively. In fact, Lester’s outing against Miami was his slowest one-game average ever.
Don’t panic, as there are three relevant goodies from last season that should give us confidence. Despite Lester throwing almost one and a half ticks slower in 2017 compared to 2016, he still:
- Made batters whiff at a 25 percent rate, the best of his career.
- Induced more weak contact than at any point in his Cubs tenure. Batters were hitting his pitches 1 mph slower compared to 2016.
- Had an xOBA (expected weighted on-base average) better than the league average by 4.3 percent.
Of course, this is only one outing for an aging pitcher and another significant velocity dip might end up being problematic. Then again, Lester’s whiff rate and exit velocity against were the best of his Cubs career despite a velocity dip last season.