With opening day slated to begin on Monday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox will turn to their reliable series-opening starter to battle the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Jon Lester, who is set to make his fourth-consecutive opening day start, will continue to show his worth as one of the greatest opening day starters in Red Sox history.
Lester, 30, has been an efficient pitcher in series-opening situations. Notably, in the 2013 postseason, Lester was handed the ball to start the respective playoff series against Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals. In those games, Lester demonstrated his excellent composure, getting key strikeouts and preventing crucial runs from scoring.
However, Lester’s importance as a big-game starter doesn’t transcend his identity as the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff. A mainstay in the rotation since 2007, Lester has been with the Red Sox through their World Series victories in 2007 and 2013, as well as the tumultuous collapse in 2011 as well as the abysmal 2012 campaign. But Lester, who has won 100 games in his eight seasons with the Red Sox, has been the rock that the remainder of the rotation leans on, helping the team develop as a unit, which led to their postseason success in 2013.
After finishing Spring Training with a 0.71 ERA and 14 strikeouts in three starts, Lester is primed to make the opening day start versus the Orioles. Lester has dominated the Orioles throughout his career, making for several intriguing games. In 25 starts versus the Orioles, Lester has gone 15-3 with a 2.94 ERA and 131 strikeouts, while holding the Orioles to a .255 batting average. Whenever Lester makes a start versus the Orioles, he is always on his game, getting key outs and giving the Red Sox leverage within their division.
Essentially, due to his career numbers on opening day and against the Orioles, Lester is the ideal opening day starter for the Boston Red Sox. His devotion to his team, as well as his performance on the mound, are essential components to Lester’s success with the Red Sox, making him the rock on which the remainder of the rotation could lean on. When Lester gets the ball on Monday afternoon, he will tune out the pressure imposed by the media and opposing hitters, and pitch to level he has demonstrated over the years.