It may not be as certain as death or taxes, but Jon Lester throwing at least six innings in a start seems to be about as good a bet as anything else these days.
Lester continued a streak of completing at least six innings in every start Tuesday night in Chicago. He has now gone at least six innings in 16 straight outings. The last time he failed to get through the two-thirds mark in the game was on June 7 when he was still a member of the Boston Red Sox.
But six is usually just a minimum for Lester. During the current 16-game run, he has thrown eight innings five times, 7.2 innings twice and completed one game. There's no questions about his effectiveness that helps him go deep into ballgames, but a strong arm that doesn't limit him to just 100 pitches plays a key role too.
With both the Red Sox and A's, Lester averaged well over 100 pitches per start - usually up into the 110's. He has thrown the fifth-most pitches in all of baseball this year and is in a basic dead heat with David Price for average number of pitches per start with about 109. Only Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers averages more pitches per start than Price/Lester.
Chicago White Sox
The Oakland rental pitcher got at it again on Tuesday, pitching his team to another victory with eight clean innings against the Chicago White Sox. Lester allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out eight. He only surrendered two runs, including a solo home run to Dayan Viciedo. The A's had a large enough lead for Lester to hand the ball over to Evan Scribner in the ninth after 119 pitches. Scribner did his job with a perfect frame that included two strikeouts.
The Athletics likely won't put too much stock into Lester's future because they're not considered a serious threat to re-sign the lefty ace who will hit the free agent market this winter. And if Bob Melvin rides his horse all the way into a deep playoff run while throwing more pitches than he already has been, it will be interesting to see if teams still line up as anxiously as many consider they will to sign a 30-year-old with the number of innings on his arm as Lester has.
It's unlikely either side has that concern now, though. As Jon Lester seems as invested as any Athletic to complete the job he was brought in to do - win a World Series championship.
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