September 11, 2009
In just four seasons (only two of them full campaigns), Jon Lester has already put a few notches in his belt: a no-hitter, World Series Game Four winner, and club record for strikeouts in a season by a lefty (204).
Bruce Hurst, the last great Red Sox lefty prior to Lester, previously held the mark for 22 years with 191 Ks.
Having already surpassed Hurst's team record, Lester moved into even more elite company in his last start, becoming just the 10th pitcher in team history to record 200 strikeouts in a season, and the first lefty to do so.
Here's a list of those 10 Red Sox pitchers with 200 K seasons:
Lester's 204 Ks are third in the AL and fifth in the Majors. His 3.44 ERA is eighth in the AL and his 20 quality starts are tied for third in the AL.
Having clearly established himself as one of the top lefties in the game today, Lester's rapidly growing list of accomplishments—achieved in such a brief period—already qualify him as one of the best in Red Sox history. In fact, his 7.8 K/9 innings is the best of any lefty in club history.
Other notable Sox lefties have included: Mel Parnell (123 wins), Lefty Grove (105 wins), Bill Lee (94 wins), Dutch Leonard (90 wins), Babe Ruth (89 wins), and Hurst (88 wins).
Parnell's club record for wins by a lefty seems to be within Lester's grasp. At age 25, Lester already has 39 victories. No lefty in team history had won as many games by the age of 25.
With 16 wins last year and 12 so far this year, it seems reasonable that Lester could average 15 wins per season. If he manages that rate, he would surpass Parnell in 2015 at the age of 31.
That would surely secure his status as the best Red Sox lefty of all time.