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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. CC Sabathia

09.14.13 at 11:43 am ET
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One year ago, a Jon Lester-CC Sabathia matchup would have represented a chance for the Yankees ace to pad his stats before the start of the postseason, while Lester would be looking to salvage the worst year of his career.

Jon Lester

Jon Lester

However, when Lester (13-8, 3.86 ERA) and Sabathia (13-12, 4.82 ERA) face off Saturday at Fenway Park, their roles will be completely reversed.

Lester, one year removed from a career-worst season in which he posted a 4.82 ERA for the 69-93 Sox, is attempting his eighth straight quality start and to looking to push his team’s AL East lead back to 9½ games. On the other hand, Sabathia, who posted a 3.38 ERA last year for the AL East champion Yankees, enters Saturday’s tilt with a 4.82 ERA, and an MLB-worst 106 earned runs allowed.

Lester gritted out eight innings in a no-decision vs. the Yankees in his most recent start on Sept. 8. He allowed 10 hits, one walk and three runs, and struck out six. New York touched up Lester for two runs and four hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Robinson Cano. Despite allowing eight hits, one walk and three runs after five innings, Lester powered through three more shutout innings.

The start was the latest in a stretch of domination for Lester. He’s put together a seven-game stretch with a 1.98 ERA in 50 innings since Aug. 2. Five of those seven games have come on the road.

This will be Lester’s fourth start of the season against New York. He holds a 4.19 ERA vs. the Yankees this season.

With his next start, Sabathia likely will surpass the 200-inning mark for the fifth straight time as a Yankee and the seventh straight time overall. But that’s about the only thing Sabathia can hang his hat on this season.

CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia

One could surmise that Sabathia’s struggles can be accounted for in an inability to strike out batters, or an increase in the number of walks allowed. But this simply isn’t the case. His strikeouts and walks per nine ratios are in line with his career numbers. He’s posted a 7.5 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9, compared to a career 7.8 K/9 and a 2.7 BB/9.

How about bad luck?

Also wrong. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) this season is .303, which is right around league average and his career average. Strangely enough, Sabathia posted an even worse .318 BABIP to go with a much better  3.00 ERA in 2011.

It’s possible that after 13 seasons and logging 2,762 1/3 innings, Sabathia’s power fastball and sharp slider have simply lost their effectiveness. Beyond the Box Score took a look at Sabathia’s struggles and noticed a precipitous decline in his fastball velocity this season.

Sabathia comes off a 7 1/3 inning no-decision against the Orioles last Monday. He allowed three earned runs and struck out six.

Sabathia will be looking to put together a start similar to what he did on May 31 at Yankee Stadium. The lefty dominated the Red Sox in 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and letting in just one run. Since that day, Sabathia has allowed at least two runs in 18 straight starts.

Fenway Park has not been a friendly place to Sabathia. In 12 career starts, Sabathia has a 5.30 ERA and a 1.567 WHIP there.

Yankees vs. Lester (LHP)

Robinson Cano (72): .258/.306/.333, 5 doubles, 7 RBIs, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (69): .333/.391/.397, 1 HR, 1 double, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts

Vernon Wells (55): .178/.309/.311, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 8 walks, 6 strikeouts

Alex Rodriguez (50): .240/.320/.533, 3 HR, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 7 RBIs, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (46): .333/.348/.467, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Curtis Granderson (40): .250/.325/.444, 2 HR, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 15 strikeouts

Lyle Overbay (28): .360/.429/.680, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 8 RBIs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

Mark Reynolds (27): .318/.444/.591, 1 HR , 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Eduardo Nunez (16): .133/.188/.133, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 walks, 3 strikeouts

Alfonso Soriano (13): .308/.308/.308, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts

Chris Stewart (9): .600/.625/.1.200, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

David Adams (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 strikeout

Austin Romine (1): .000/.000/.000

Red Sox vs. Sabathia (LHP)

David Ortiz (68): .250/.338/.383, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 5 RBIs, 6 walks, 16 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (61): .309/.367/.382, 4 doubles, 3 RBI, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (43): .250/.349/.389, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 7 RBIs, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts

Jonny Gomes (41): .206/.317/.324, 1 HR, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (35): .226/.314/.484, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 8 RBIs, 3 walks, 10 strikeouts

Shane Victorino (30): .370/.414/593, 1 HR, 3 doubles, 9 RBIs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (25): .333/.400/.476, 3 doubles, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts

John McDonald (22): .190/.190/.238, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 6 strikeouts

David Ross (19): .313/.368/.750, 2 HR, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (13): .182/.250/.455, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Stephen Drew (12): .222/.333/.222, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Will Middlebrooks (9): .286/.444/.857, 1 HR, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Brandon Snyder (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Jackie Bradley (6): .000/.333/.000, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mike Carp (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Quintin Berry (4): .500/.500/1.250, 1 triple, 1 double

Ryan Lavarnway (3): .000/.000/.000

Xander Bogaerts has not faced Sabathia.

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