It is now safe to put Jon Lester amongst the names of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Mike Mussina, Brandon Webb, A.J. Burnett, Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt, and Dan Haren. The list goes on, but it is still a very select list. These are some of the premier pitchers in baseball. Jon Lester is now included in this list.
You could argue that Lester is the best pitcher in the A.L. East. This was Lester's first full year as a major-league pitcher, and the fatigue factor didn't get to him at all; he got stronger when he was tired.
Lester first debuted in the majors two years ago. He was 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA in his first year. The next year, Lester was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to miss a majority of the season. He was 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA. He made a few starts in the playoffs as well, including Game Four of the World Series.
This year, Lester made 33 starts. He was 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA. Lester was nearly traded for Johan Santana in the offseason. I think it is safe to say that the Red Sox made the right decision in keeping Lester.
Lester throws a mid-90s fastball but can pop the mit a 98. He throws a solid two-seamer with a lot of movement. He mixes in his change-up and an 11-5 fastball. He also can fool hitters with a hard cutter.
Lester has drawn a lot of comparisons to Andy Pettitte. One similarity that we are learning about in the playoffs is that Lester is a big-game pitcher.
His first game back from cancer was a win. He won the clinching game for the Sox in the 2007 World Series, and he threw a no hitter earlier this year against the Royals. In the 2008 Playoffs, Lester is 2-0.
Lester has shown signs of being a top-notch pitcher in the big leagues this year. He is still learning and improving as he pitches. Lester will most likely win 20 games next year and probably several more times in his career.
At this rate, Lester should be a Cy Young award winner sometime in his career. He is already a top-gun pitcher in the bigs, but what lies ahead for Lester? As for now, there is no telling, but he is on the track to being a well-above-average big leaguer.
He has just finished his first full season and didn't go through the regular fatigue issues pitchers experience towards the end of their first full season.
Lester could be the difference for the Sox this year and he looks to be the future ace in the Boston staff. Next up for Lester is starting at the All-Star Game.