Tuesday's Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Jon Lester vs. Max Scherzer

September 03, 2013 - 10:43 am

The Red Sox will attempt to avoid becoming part of a personal milestone as Detroit's Max Scherzer guns for his 20th win against Jon Lester on Tuesday night at Fenway Park. If Boston receives a start from the new and improved version of Lester, the Red Sox may just accomplish that. Lester capped off a solid July with arguably his strongest month of the season in August, when he posted a 2.97 ERA in six starts. Through June, Lester possessed a 4.61 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. However, in July and August, Lester improved his ERA and WHIP dramatically. In 71 innings during that stretch, Lester owned a 3.01 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. But what was behind his improved play in the last two months? The numbers reveal a renewed devotion to his fastball, and adjustments with his usage of the cutter. In the first three months of the season, Lester used his cutter frequently, particularly in high-leverage situations. It was his favorite pitch in two-strike counts, as he used it 38 percent of the time, according to brooksbaseball.net. But in the following two months, Lester abandoned the pitch in such situations. He threw just 18.8 percent cutters in two-strike counts, compared to 46.9 percent for fastballs. Reducing the frequency of cutters makes sense for Lester, considering the ineffectiveness of the pitch. Opposing batters annihilated the pitch to the tune of a .291 batting average and a .482 slugging percentage. In his last start, Lester took the loss despite pitching adequately against the Orioles. Baltimore pushed across three runs in Lester'€™s six innings of work. Lester last faced the Tigers in Detroit on June 21 and earned a win, despite pitching rather poorly. He allowed five runs on nine hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Scherzer, 29, appears to finally have harnessed the tantalizing potential that prompted the Tigers to acquire him from the Diamondbacks in 2009 in a three-way deal that cost Detroit All-Star outfielder Curtis Granderson and a solid starter in Edwin Jackson. With one month remaining in the season, Scherzer has a career-high 19 wins. He'€™s also on pace to set career highs in ERA (2.90) and WHIP (.933). However, Scherzer is coming off one of his worst starts of the season, when the Athletics roughed him up on Aug. 29. Scherzer allowed six runs (five earned) in five innings, and allowed a pair of home runs -- the first home runs he had allowed in over a month. Scherzer last faced Boston on June 22 and earned the win with seven innings of two-run ball. Tigers vs. Lester (LHP) Torii Hunter (28 plate appearances): .462/.500/.692, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts Miguel Cabrera (21): .625/.714/.938, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 5 walks Brayan Pena (14): .429/.429/.500, 1 double, 4 RBI, 2 strikeouts Prince Fielder (13): .250/.308/.250, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Victor Martinez (13): .545/.615/1.000, 1 HR, 1 triple, 3 RBI, 2 walks Austin Jackson (11): .200/.273/.200, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Alex Avila (6): .500/.500/.667 Danny Worth (6): .500/.500/.500, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout Andy Dirks (3): .500/.667/2.000, 1 HR, 1 walk Omar Infante (3): .000/.000/.000 Matt Tuiasosopo (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Ramon Santiago (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Jose Iglesias, Hernan Perez, Nick Castellanos and Don Kelly have not faced Lester. Red Sox vs. Scherzer (RHP) David Ortiz (15): .538/.600/1.308, 3 HR, 1 double, 6 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts Mike Napoli (14): .077/.143/.077, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (13): .231/.231/.692, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 strikeout Jarrod Saltalamacchia (12): .417/.417/.667, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 strikeouts Jacoby Ellsbury (12): .556/.667/1.000, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 double, 3 walks, 1 strikeout Stephen Drew (9): .111/.111/.222, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts Mike Carp (6): .400/.500/.400, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts Daniel Nava (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout Shane Victorino (6): .167/.167/.167 Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts John McDonald (3): .000/.000/.000 Will Middlebrooks (3): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts David Ross (2): .500/.500/1.000, 1 double Ryan Lavarnway, Xander Bogaerts, Brandon Snyder and Quintin Berry have not faced Scherzer.