Last night, we saw the continuance of an odd trend in Jon Lester’s 2009 starts. A fifth inning collapse. Why does this happen? The first prognosis that comes to mind is fatigue. But, Lester seems to do just fine after the fifth inning, according to the statistical evidence.
How bad has he been in the fifth frame? Check it out. Jon Lester in the 5th inning, 2009:
6 home runs
opponents hitting .449/.471/.857 (201 OPS+)
Yikes. It’s too bad there isn’t a way to eliminate the fifth inning from his starts, sort of like how hotels in Manhattan eliminate the 13th floor. Hypothetically speaking, if we remove the fifth inning from Lester’s 2009 starts, we get a 3.31 ERA over 51 innings (numbers somewhat similar to his 2008 totals, unsurprisingly).
The oddest thing about all this, is the fifth inning was his best inning throughout last season. He held hitters to .208/.306/.330 in the 5th last year.