We looked earlier this season -- way earlier, like when he still had a 5.11 ERA -- at how strikeout ratios and strikeout-to-walk ratios indicated Jon Lester was in line for better days. There were nine pitchers with more than a strikeout per inning and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.0 or better: Lester, Zack Grienke, Johan Santana, Dan Haren, Erik Bedard, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Javier Vazquez and Justin Verlander.
Now? That group has dwindled to five:
* Grienke (2.12 ERA)
* Lester (3.87 ERA)
* Lincecum (2.33 ERA)
* Vazquez (2.95 ERA)
* Verlander (3.59 ERA)
Lester still has the highest ERA of the group. But there aren't many who doubt his ERA is bound to keep falling. There's no question now that Lester is one of the premier pitchers -- and not just one of the premier lefthanders -- in the major leagues.