A few years back, Jon Lester was the Boston Red Sox‘ face of the franchise.
A left-handed starting pitcher who is able to dominate is a rare gem to find. Lester, in early stages of his career, was just that kind of gem. In the last few seasons, though, he has not performed the way fans are used to seeing. Can he find that dominance he once possessed?
Lester has been a Red Sox since being drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft. Making his MLB debut in 2006 at just 22-years old, he was able to contribute to the Red Sox almost right away. With a 7-2 record, along with a mediocre 4.76 era, the Red Sox were hopeful that he could eventually become a great pitcher.
Though he contributed a little to the Red Sox’ World Series-winning season in 2007, it wasn’t until 2008 that Lester showed what he was truly capable of on the mound.
With a 16-6 record along with a greatly improved 3.21 ERA, the Red Sox finally saw that dominant pitcher they hoped they see. They weren’t let down the next three seasons either, with Lester posting a combined 49-26 record along with a 3.38 era. These numbers are award-worthy, and Lester being a left-hander was just an added bonus.
With these numbers, Lester was expected to pitch like this for years to come. However, after arguably a career-worst season in 2012, his dominance did not reappear this season. That said, he’s not pitching too poorly in 2013.
With a 8-6 record along with a 4.58 ERA, these numbers are average going into the All-Star break. This is a contract year for the lefty, so if he performs at a high level in the second half of the season, he will most likely be able to get a multi-year deal. If not, expect around a two-year contract from teams if he hits free agency.
The Red Sox do have a club option for the 2014 season, so he may get one more chance in Beantown regardless of his second-half performance. At just 29-years old, Lester still has time to find his dominance yet again. The real question is, can he?