It is a safe bet that no matter whether Lester is feeling good or not with throwing certain pitches in any given postseason start, he still will keep the Red Sox in the game. He didn’t have his best stuff in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Tigers, but he still managed to earn the win, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings.
His postseason consistency is clear. In his nine career playoff starts, he has allowed three or fewer runs eight times and two or fewer runs six times. He didn’t allow an earned run his first three playoff starts, including a win in series-clinching Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. And he boasts a 2.49 career playoff ERA.
Having that kind of consistency from a team’s ace during the postseason isn’t only ideal but necessary.
“You’ve got to have that guy,” Ross said. “You’re not in the postseason without a stud who can lock it down.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell called Lester “a frontline pitcher” when asked about his southpaw’s ability to keep Boston in almost every postseason game he has ever pitched.
“Frontline pitchers do that,” Farrell said. “His preparation doesn’t vary from a physical side of things. So he’s able to maintain his stuff. And I think (his) last start against Detroit was the first time he had gone on his fifth day in about a month and a half, and it kind of showed up a little bit.
“But at the same time, this is a guy who’s a power pitcher,” Farrell added. “Power stuff wins in the postseason. He’s able to get guys out inside the strike zone and not rely on opposing hitters to chase or expand. And because of his physical abilities, that’s what allows him to perform so well in environments (and) games this late in the season.”