A lot is made, justifiably so, about the Boston Red Sox’ inability to develop top-of-the-rotation pitching from their own farm system. That struggle makes it all the more noticeable when they do develop a pitcher like that, and Jon Lester is perhaps the last homegrown arm they’ve brought up through their farm to flourish into that kind of role. Lester first came up with the Red Sox back in 2006, and after 16 years pitching in the majors, with three championships along the way, the veteran southpaw is hanging up his cleats. Lester told ESPN Wednesday morning that he is retiring from the game.
It’s been an incredible career for the now-38-year-old, one that includes the aforementioned three World Series rings, a winning battle against cancer, impactful stints with two of the league’s most prestigious franchises with the Red Sox and Cubs, three top-five Cy Young finishes, and five All-Star bids. For his 16-year career, Lester pitched to a 3.66 ERA, regularly topping 200 innings on a year-to-year basis. Across 154 postseason innings he pitched to. a 2.51 ERA.
For Red Sox fans, Lester quickly became a fan favorite in Boston, coming up in 2006, contributing to the 2007 championship roster, and heading up the rotation as the team’s ace by 2008. That 2008 season was also the year in which he threw his no-hitter in front of the Fenway crowd, striking out nine in the effort. He’d win a second championship in Boston in 2013, solidifying himself as not just one of the better starting pitchers we’ve seen come through Boston, but among the very best postseason performers the city has seen.
The team made the mistake of lowballing the lefty when he was entering his final season, a move that ultimately led to him being traded midway through his final season in Boston. There have been a lot of decisions that have led to deserved scorn towards the Red Sox ownership group since they’ve taken over, but the way they handled the Lester situation is right up near the top. After leaving Boston Lester eventually signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he once again led a staff and put together a great postseason performance to lead that franchise to their first championship since 1908.
It’s not often you see a pitcher leave that kind of mark on two franchises that have been around as long as these two have, but Lester was just that kind of pitcher. His performance on the mound was always fun to watch, and that he kicked things up a notch come postseason play only added to his aura. In addition to his play on the field, Lester and his family also engrossed themselves in their community and helped make the city a better place while he was here. He’s a bit short, most likely, in terms of Hall of Fame consideration, but Lester’s the kind of player who will be remembered for a long time in the city of Boston.