Portrait of Jon Lester

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2018 Projections (Preseason PECOTA - seasonal age 34)
176.3 3.95 1.26 167 12 8 0 2.5
Birth Date1-7-1984
Height6' 4"
Weight240 lbs
Age34 years, 10 months, 5 days
WARP Summary

MLB Statistics

Historical (past-seasons) WARP is now based on DRA..
cFIP and DRA are not available on a by-team basis and display as zeroes(0). See TOT line for season totals of these stats.
Multiple stints are are currently shownClick to hide.
2006 BOS MLB 15 15 81.3 7 2 0 91 43 60 7 .263 105 10.1 4.8 0.8 6.6 41% .333 .275 1.65 4.60 4.76 111 7.05 143.5 -1.1
2007 BOS MLB 12 11 63.0 4 0 0 61 31 50 10 .267 101 8.7 4.4 1.4 7.1 36% .279 .265 1.46 5.30 4.57 119 6.71 138.8 -0.7
2008 BOS MLB 33 33 210.3 16 6 0 202 66 152 14 .261 107 8.6 2.8 0.6 6.5 50% .297 .234 1.27 3.66 3.21 91 4.43 94.6 2.6
2009 BOS MLB 32 32 203.3 15 8 0 186 64 225 20 .262 111 8.2 2.8 0.9 10.0 49% .313 .227 1.23 3.19 3.41 73 2.97 63.8 5.9
2010 BOS MLB 32 32 208.0 19 9 0 167 83 225 14 .255 113 7.2 3.6 0.6 9.7 54% .289 .220 1.20 3.10 3.25 76 2.93 66.2 5.6
2011 BOS MLB 31 31 191.7 15 9 0 166 75 182 20 .265 108 7.8 3.5 0.9 8.5 51% .286 .242 1.26 3.86 3.47 97 4.08 94.9 2.2
2012 BOS MLB 33 33 205.3 9 14 0 216 68 166 25 .259 105 9.5 3.0 1.1 7.3 51% .312 .266 1.38 4.06 4.82 96 4.64 106.3 1.3
2013 BOS MLB 33 33 213.3 15 8 0 209 67 177 19 .267 100 8.8 2.8 0.8 7.5 46% .300 .259 1.29 3.61 3.75 94 3.77 90.2 3.1
2014 BOS 0 21 21 143.0 10 7 0 128 32 149 9 .261 103 8.1 2.0 0.6 9.4 46% .308 .233 1.12 2.65 2.52 79 2.79 68.4 3.6
2014 OAK 0 11 11 76.7 6 4 0 66 16 71 7 .265 92 7.7 1.9 0.8 8.3 43% .281 .247 1.07 3.16 2.35 78 2.36 57.8 2.3
2015 CHN MLB 32 32 205.0 11 12 0 183 47 207 16 .257 96 8.0 2.1 0.7 9.1 51% .304 .242 1.12 2.94 3.34 77 2.61 60.9 6.0
2016 CHN MLB 32 32 202.7 19 5 0 154 52 197 21 .258 91 6.8 2.3 0.9 8.7 48% .256 .222 1.02 3.44 2.44 84 2.89 63.9 5.7
2017 CHN MLB 32 32 180.7 13 8 0 179 60 180 26 .259 99 8.9 3.0 1.3 9.0 48% .310 .263 1.32 4.11 4.33 88 3.85 82.0 3.5
2018 CHN MLB 32 32 181.7 18 6 0 174 64 149 24 .260 99 8.6 3.2 1.2 7.4 40% .290 .265 1.31 4.35 3.32 102 4.44 99.3 1.8
2014 TOT MLB 32 32 219.7 16 11 0 194 48 220 16 .262 99 7.9 2.0 0.7 9.0 45% .299 .238 1.10 2.82 2.46 79 2.64 64.7 5.9

Statistics for All Levels

'opp' stats - Quality of opponents faced - have been moved and are available only as OPP_QUAL in the Statistics reports now.
Minor league stats are currently shownClick to hide.
2003 AUG A 24 21 106.0 6 9 0 102 44 71 7 .000 8.7 3.7 0.6 6.0 0% .295 .000 1.38 4.14 3.65 0 0.00 0.0
2004 SAR A+ 21 20 90.3 7 6 0 82 37 97 2 .000 8.2 3.7 0.2 9.7 0% .329 .000 1.32 2.69 4.29 0 0.00 0.0
2005 PME AA 26 26 148.3 11 6 0 114 57 163 10 .258 38 6.9 3.5 0.6 9.9 48% .283 .225 1.15 3.06 2.61 0 0.00 0.0
2006 BOS MLB 15 15 81.3 7 2 0 91 43 60 7 .263 105 10.1 4.8 0.8 6.6 41% .333 .275 1.65 4.60 4.76 111 7.05 143.5
2006 PAW AAA 11 11 46.0 3 4 0 43 25 43 5 .258 100 8.4 4.9 1.0 8.4 44% .284 .263 1.48 4.25 2.74 0 0.00 0.0
2007 BOS MLB 12 11 63.0 4 0 0 61 31 50 10 .267 101 8.7 4.4 1.4 7.1 36% .279 .265 1.46 5.30 4.57 119 6.71 138.8
2007 GRN A 3 3 13.0 0 0 0 11 2 15 2 .256 99 7.6 1.4 1.4 10.4 50% .281 .216 1.00 3.64 2.08 0 0.00 0.0
2007 PME AA 1 1 6.0 1 0 0 5 4 4 0 .253 106 7.5 6.0 0.0 6.0 32% .263 .249 1.50 3.92 1.50 0 0.00 0.0
2007 PAW AAA 14 14 71.7 4 5 0 67 31 51 4 .261 91 8.4 3.9 0.5 6.4 45% .284 .246 1.37 3.89 3.89 0 0.00 0.0
2008 BOS MLB 33 33 210.3 16 6 0 202 66 152 14 .261 107 8.6 2.8 0.6 6.5 50% .297 .234 1.27 3.66 3.21 91 4.43 94.6
2009 BOS MLB 32 32 203.3 15 8 0 186 64 225 20 .262 111 8.2 2.8 0.9 10.0 49% .313 .227 1.23 3.19 3.41 73 2.97 63.8
2010 BOS MLB 32 32 208.0 19 9 0 167 83 225 14 .255 113 7.2 3.6 0.6 9.7 54% .289 .220 1.20 3.10 3.25 76 2.93 66.2
2011 BOS MLB 31 31 191.7 15 9 0 166 75 182 20 .265 108 7.8 3.5 0.9 8.5 51% .286 .242 1.26 3.86 3.47 97 4.08 94.9
2012 BOS MLB 33 33 205.3 9 14 0 216 68 166 25 .259 105 9.5 3.0 1.1 7.3 51% .312 .266 1.38 4.06 4.82 96 4.64 106.3
2013 BOS MLB 33 33 213.3 15 8 0 209 67 177 19 .267 100 8.8 2.8 0.8 7.5 46% .300 .259 1.29 3.61 3.75 94 3.77 90.2
2014 BOS MLB 21 21 143.0 10 7 0 128 32 149 9 .261 103 8.1 2.0 0.6 9.4 46% .308 .233 1.12 2.65 2.52 79 2.79 68.4
2014 OAK MLB 11 11 76.7 6 4 0 66 16 71 7 .265 92 7.7 1.9 0.8 8.3 43% .281 .247 1.07 3.16 2.35 78 2.36 57.8
2015 CHN MLB 32 32 205.0 11 12 0 183 47 207 16 .257 96 8.0 2.1 0.7 9.1 51% .304 .242 1.12 2.94 3.34 77 2.61 60.9
2016 CHN MLB 32 32 202.7 19 5 0 154 52 197 21 .258 91 6.8 2.3 0.9 8.7 48% .256 .222 1.02 3.44 2.44 84 2.89 63.9
2017 CHN MLB 32 32 180.7 13 8 0 179 60 180 26 .259 99 8.9 3.0 1.3 9.0 48% .310 .263 1.32 4.11 4.33 88 3.85 82.0
2018 CHN MLB 32 32 181.7 18 6 0 174 64 149 24 .260 99 8.6 3.2 1.2 7.4 40% .290 .265 1.31 4.35 3.32 102 4.44 99.3

Plate Discipline

2008 3147 0.4878 0.4658 0.8090 0.6072 0.3313 0.8895 0.6685 0.1910
2009 3400 0.5056 0.4553 0.7455 0.5928 0.3147 0.8332 0.5766 0.2545
2010 3350 0.4866 0.4379 0.7471 0.5896 0.2942 0.8512 0.5494 0.2529
2011 3176 0.4754 0.4405 0.7784 0.6245 0.2737 0.8611 0.6075 0.2216
2012 3412 0.4235 0.4449 0.7846 0.6408 0.3010 0.8704 0.6503 0.2154
2013 3555 0.4723 0.4672 0.8031 0.6450 0.3081 0.8837 0.6522 0.1969
2014 3480 0.4658 0.4621 0.7711 0.6299 0.3158 0.8658 0.6065 0.2289
2015 3204 0.4376 0.4469 0.7514 0.6348 0.3008 0.8584 0.5756 0.2486
2016 3149 0.4630 0.4611 0.7562 0.6591 0.2904 0.8626 0.5479 0.2438
2017 3100 0.4284 0.4455 0.7466 0.6295 0.3076 0.8481 0.5908 0.2534
2018 3109 0.4564 0.4339 0.7939 0.6490 0.2533 0.8740 0.6215 0.2061

Injury History  —  No longer being updated

Last Update: 12/31/2014 23:59 ET

Date On Date Off Transaction Days Games Side Body Part Injury Severity Surgery Date Reaggravation
2013-06-28 2013-07-03 DTD 5 4 Right Hip Strain - -
2012-08-25 2012-08-30 DTD 5 5 Left Thigh Strain Hamstring - -
2012-05-19 2012-05-19 DTD 0 0 - Low Back Stiffness - -
2011-07-06 2011-07-25 15-DL 19 14 Left Shoulder Strain Latissimus Dorsi - -
2011-03-05 2011-03-11 Camp 6 0 General Medical Respiratory Flu -
2009-09-26 2009-09-26 DTD 0 0 Right Thigh Contusion Quadriceps -
2009-09-01 2009-09-01 DTD 0 0 Right Groin Strain -
2007-03-23 2007-06-11 60-DL 80 62 General Medical Recovery From Surgery Cancer -
2006-08-24 2006-10-01 60-DL 38 35 General Medical Illness Lymphoma -


Year Team Salary
2021 CHN $10,000,000
2020 CHN $20,000,000
2019 CHN $27,500,000
2018 CHN $27,500,000
2017 CHN $25,000,000
2016 CHN $25,000,000
2015 CHN $20,000,000
2014 BOS $13,000,000
2013 BOS $11,625,000
2012 BOS $7,630,000
2011 BOS $5,750,000
2010 BOS $3,750,000
2009 BOS $1,000,000
2008 BOS $421,500
2007 BOS $384,000
11 yrPrevious$113,560,500
12 yrPvs + Cur$141,060,500
3 yrFuture$57,500,000
15 yrTotal$198,560,500


Service TimeAgentContract Status
11 y 75 dJosh Yates, ACES6 years/$155M (2015-20), 2021 option

  • 6 years/$155M (2015-20), plus 2021 option. Signed by Chicago Cubs as a free agent 12/15/14. $30M signing bonus ($15M due 4/15/15, $2.5M due 12/31/18, $2.5M due 12/31/19, $10M due 9/15/20). 15:$15M, 16:$20M, 17:$20M, 18:$22.5M, 19:$22.5M, 20:$15M, 21:$25M mutual option, $10M buyout. 2021 option guaranteed with 200 innings in 2020 or 400 IP in 2019-20. Full no-trade protection. Perks: suite on road, private air travel up to 25 hours per year.
  • 5 years/$30M (2009-13), plus 2014 club option. Signed extension with Boston 3/15/09. 09:$1M, 10:$3.75M, 11:$5.75M, 12:$7.625M, 13:$11.625M, 14:$13M club option, $0.25M buyout. Award bonuses: $50,000 each for LCS MVP, All-Star. $0.1M each for WS MVP, Cy Young, MVP ($75,000 for 2nd place, $50,000 for 3rd). 2014 club option voided with trade if Lester is 1st or 2nd in Cy Young vote in 2009-13. Acquired by Oakland in trade from Boston 7/31/14. A's pay $650,000 remaining on Cespedes' 2014 salary. Red Sox cover $1.8M portion of Lester's remaining 2014 salary.
  • 1 year (2009). Re-signed by Boston 3/10/09.
  • 1 year/$0.4215M (2008). Re-signed by Boston 3/08.
  • 1 year/$0.384M (2007). Re-signed by Boston 3/07. Optioned to Triple-A 6/11/07. Recalled 7/23/07. Optioned to Triple-A 8/23/07. Recalled 9/2/07.
  • 1 year (2006). Contract purchased by Boston 11/05. Re-signed by Boston 2/06. Optioned to Triple-A 3/06. Recalled 6/06.
  • Drafted by Boston 2002 (2-57) (Puyallup HS, Wash.) $1M signing bonus.

2018 Preseason Forecast

Last Update: 1/27/2017 12:35 ET

90o 14.3 7.5 0 30 30 207.5 167 61 193 21 .262 1.10 3.03 3.17 42.6 4.6
80o 14 7.9 0 30 30 201.0 170 62 187 21 .272 1.16 3.33 3.49 36.4 4.0
70o 13.8 8.3 0 30 30 196.5 173 63 183 21 .279 1.20 3.55 3.73 31.8 3.5
60o 13.6 8.6 0 30 30 192.6 174 64 179 22 .286 1.24 3.73 3.93 27.9 3.0
50o 13.4 8.9 0 30 30 189.0 176 65 176 22 .292 1.27 3.91 4.12 24.2 2.6
40o 13.2 9.2 0 30 30 185.4 178 65 173 22 .297 1.31 4.09 4.31 20.6 2.2
30o 13 9.5 0 30 30 181.7 180 66 169 22 .304 1.35 4.28 4.52 16.5 1.8
20o 12.7 9.9 0 30 30 177.3 181 67 165 23 .311 1.40 4.51 4.76 11.9 1.3
10o 12.3 10.4 0 30 30 171.4 184 67 160 23 .321 1.47 4.82 5.1 5.3 0.6
Weighted Mean13.48.903030189.11756417622.2911.273.904.124.62.7

Preseason Long-Term Forecast (Beyond the 2018 Projections)

Playing time estimates are based on performance, not Depth Charts.

Comparable Players (Similarity Index 76)

Rank Score Name Year Run Average Trend
1 92 Andy Pettitte 2006 4.79
2 90 Justin Verlander 2017 3.45
3 88 Cliff Lee 2013 3.11
4 88 Roger Clemens 1997 2.22
5 87 Chris Carpenter 2009 2.29
6 87 Adam Wainwright 2016 4.85
7 84 Whitey Ford 1963 3.11
8 83 Mike Cuellar 1971 3.42
9 83 CC Sabathia 2015 4.89
10 83 Kevin Brown 1999 3.53
11 82 Pascual Perez 1991 3.18
12 82 Johan Santana 2013 0.00 DNP
13 82 John Smoltz 2001 3.66
14 82 Virgil Trucks 1951 4.69
15 81 Warren Spahn 1955 3.67
16 81 Scott Feldman 2017 5.01
17 81 Jason Schmidt 2007 7.01
18 81 Bob Gibson 1970 3.40
19 81 C.J. Wilson 2015 4.02
20 80 Wandy Rodriguez 2013 3.73
21 80 Roy Oswalt 2012 6.25
22 80 Jimmy Key 1995 5.93
23 79 Tim Hudson 2010 2.91
24 79 James Shields 2016 6.04
25 79 Gaylord Perry 1973 3.74
26 79 Josh Beckett 2014 3.19
27 79 Hiroki Kuroda 2009 4.53
28 78 Hisashi Iwakuma 2015 3.68
29 78 Jerry Reuss 1983 3.79
30 78 Ervin Santana 2017 3.62
31 77 Steve Rogers 1984 4.89
32 77 Jason Hammel 2017 5.44
33 77 Roy Halladay 2011 2.50
34 77 Vic Raschi 1953 3.48
35 77 Mark Buehrle 2013 4.42
36 76 Jeff Fassero 1997 4.15
37 76 Ryan Dempster 2011 4.94
38 76 Gavin Floyd 2017 0.00 DNP
39 76 Kevin Millwood 2009 3.99
40 76 J.A. Happ 2017 3.96
41 76 Jason Vargas 2017 4.21
42 75 Doug Davis 2010 8.45
43 75 Scott Downs 2010 2.79
44 75 Larry Jackson 1965 4.49
45 75 Derek Lowe 2007 4.52
46 75 David Cone 1997 3.09
47 75 Bill Hands 1974 4.18
48 75 Mike Garcia 1958 11.25
49 74 Erik Bedard 2013 4.95
50 74 Mark Langston 1995 4.90
51 74 Pedro Martinez 2006 4.82
52 74 Bill Swift 1996 5.89
53 74 Bert Blyleven 1985 3.71
54 74 Jorge De La Rosa 2015 4.41
55 73 Jose Contreras 2006 4.59
56 73 Ricky Nolasco 2017 5.07
57 73 Ron Reed 1977 2.97
58 73 Bob Rush 1960 5.83
59 73 Kyle Lohse 2013 3.53
60 73 Tom Candiotti 1992 3.45
61 73 Chuck Finley 1997 4.34
62 73 Bob Friend 1965 3.37
63 73 Luis Tiant 1975 4.36 DNP
64 73 Phil Niekro 1973 3.78
65 72 Tom Seaver 1979 3.56
66 72 Bob Lemon 1955 4.39
67 72 Bryn Smith 1990 5.09
68 72 Stu Miller 1962 4.79 DNP
69 72 Juan Marichal 1972 4.47
70 72 Braden Looper 2009 5.69
71 72 Greg Maddux 2000 3.28
72 72 Tom Gordon 2002 4.01
73 72 Jake Westbrook 2012 4.38
74 71 Joe Dobson 1951 4.64
75 71 John Denny 1987 0.00 DNP
76 71 Bartolo Colon 2007 6.61
77 71 Ted Lilly 2010 3.86
78 71 Jered Weaver 2017 8.72
79 70 Vicente Padilla 2012 4.68
80 70 Scott Schoeneweis 2008 3.65
81 70 Doug Jones 1991 5.97
82 70 A.J. Burnett 2011 5.44
83 70 Joel Pineiro 2013 0.00 DNP
84 70 Zach Duke 2017 3.93
85 70 Wilbur Wood 1976 3.83
86 69 Orlando Hernandez 2000 4.78
87 69 Jim Perry 1970 3.55
88 69 Connie Johnson 1957 3.46
89 69 Carlos Torres 2017 4.58
90 69 Curt Schilling 2001 3.02
91 69 Bruce Ruffin 1998 0.00 DNP
92 69 Jonathan Papelbon 2015 3.13
93 69 Cory Lidle 2006 5.27
94 69 Hideki Okajima 2010 4.70
95 69 Dick Donovan 1962 3.91 DNP
96 69 Doug Drabek 1997 5.79
97 69 John Lackey 2013 3.76
98 69 Heath Bell 2012 5.37
99 69 Esteban Loaiza 2006 5.35
100 69 Sam Jones 1960 4.31


10 vs L (Multi) .225 .267 .343 .221
11 vs R (Multi) .228 .286 .358 .237
18 Split (Multi) -.003 -.019 -.016 -.016
19 LgAvg (Multi) -.020 -.022 -.064 -.025
30 vs L (2016) .200 .240 .300 .192
31 vs R (2016) .214 .276 .345 .230
38 Split (2016) -.014 -.035 -.045 -.038
39 LgAvg (2016) -.022 -.023 -.071 -.028

Definition of multi-year splits

BP Annual Player Comments

2018 Due to publishing agreements, the 2018 player comments and team essays are only available in the Baseball Prospectus 2018 book (available in hardcopy, and soon e-book and Kindle).
2017 Lester never seemed particularly comfortable being the $155 million man during his first year in Chicago. Last year—with a season’s worth of success under his belt and Jason Heyward’s contract sucking up much of the media oxygen—Lester raised the level of his game from its already high starting point. The change was especially noticeable in the second half, when the big lefty posted a 1.76 ERA in nearly 100 innings. He learned to ignore runners dancing off first base, which will matter a great deal this year without a now-retired David Ross around to help him manage the running game. Look for another solid season from Lester in 2017, but don’t count on his caught-stealing rate to stay quite as high.
2016 The Cubs' big 2015 free-agent splash, Lester began the season cold, with a 6.23 ERA in his first month of action. Poor performance combined with pitching the day before Jake Arrieta every trip through the rotation caused Lester's grip on the “ace” title to evaporate quicker than a snow bank in July. The result was an end-of-season DRA that ranked just 30th among MLB's 78 ERA-title qualifiers; without getting too deeply into the semantics, it's fair to say he pitched like a no. 2 starter overall. If that's a disappointment, remember that from 2011 to 2013, he looked like a no. 2 at best. The Cubs signed him for six years, sure, but his annual salary, in the context of where the free-agent market now takes contracts, doesn't require him to be an ace for the team to walk away happy. His history of health (just one DL trip in the eight years since his recovery from cancer) and last year's component stats (which best resemble his 2009 season, when he was an ace) lend plenty of hope that he'll be a positive force in every year of that deal.
2015 There was a lot of bad juju surrounding the trade that sent Lester to Oakland at the deadline in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes. The A's went into the tank immediately following the deal, yet Lester did his part to steer the ship through the suddenly shallow waters, tossing a quality start in all 11 of his regular-season outings. But when he took the ball in the Wild Card play-in game, he went dizzy from thieving Royals and wound up allowing six earned runs. While that fiasco exposed a possible weakness in controlling the running game (exemplified by the almost inconceivable stat that he did not throw over to first even one single time in 2014; on the other hand, his caught-stealing rates have been around the league average), such transgressions are overshadowed by his giant improvement in minimizing the free pass.
2014 While 2012 was worrisome for the normally reliable Lester, it also offered hints to his future. His final 13 starts of the year featured a pitcher focusing more on location, grounders and inducing weaker contact rather than the southpaw who blew heat past opposing hitters in his younger years. That carried over into 2013 and his reunion with former pitching coach John Farrell, and culminated in a fantastic postseason run where Lester allowed just six runs in 34 innings. In between, he produced a more dominant year than his ERA suggests: Of Lester's 89 earned runs, 17 came in a three-start stretch in June when his mechanics slipped. If the other 30 starts are the fairer indication, the old Lester hasn't vanishedhe's evolved.
2013 Bostons nominal ace, Lesters slip from the front of the rotation continued in 2012. His strikeout rate dropped for the fourth year in a row and his homer rate rose. He endured a particularly rough stretch in July when he gave up 25 runs in 18 1/3 innings over four starts, but even if you buy the lost mechanics argument and dont count that against his season totals, his ERA is still an un-ace-like 4.09. The scary thing is Lester isnt doing anything particularly different. His pitch mix and velocity are about the same; the only thing different is the results. He has one more season and what was previously thought to be a no-brainer team option left on his contract, but another season like 2012 could be Lester's last in Boston. Maybe the return of former pitching coach John Farrell as manager will help.
2012 A poor finish to the year marred what was otherwise a fine campaign by Lester. It wasn't just September, either, when the Red Sox went 1-5 in his six starts and his season ERA climbed half-a-run, but August, too, when his trouble with command started. Lester, who has walked 3.3 per nine over the last three years, walked 4.5 per over the last two months, driving up his pitch count and shortening his starts at a time when the last thing the bullpen needed was to pitch more. A pitcher as good as Lester is allowed to struggle; even Roy Halladay has his bad days. Further removed from the latissimus dorsi strain that sidelined him in July, it's possible PECOTA's crush on him will be justified.
2011 Lester's 3.89 ERA second-half ERA, more than a run higher than that of the first half, was a source of concern to Bostonians after the break, but the cause lay not with the pitcher, but in his defenseas the team's injuries mounted, Lester did his hurling in front of a cast of understudies, sandlotters, and old Muppets the late Jim Henson had rejected as being too disturbing for Sesame Street. The bloated ERA belied Lester's peripherals, which improved throughout the season; he whiffed 10.2 per nine from July onward while allowing only 3.3 walks per nine. Lester's SIERA, a measure of defense-independent pitching, was 3.14 after the break, one-tenth of a run better than his first-half mark. That is something to keep in mind when making your Cy Young predictions for 2011.
2010 Just as he did in 2008, Lester got off to a bit of a rough start in 2009. He flipped the switch in late May and cruised the rest of the way, going 12-3 with a 2.31 ERA over his final 22 starts, 19 of them quality starts. Lesters overall numbers were balanced by an uptick in his opponents batting average on balls in play and a return to normal from what had been a favorable rate of home runs per fly ball in '08, but his strikeout rate, which is far less dependent on luck, increased dramatically. Lester struck out ten men in a game just once in his first 66 major league starts including the postseason, then did it five times in those final 22 starts of 2009. Theres a reason he started Game One of the ALDS over Beckett: Lester is Bostons ace.
2009 Lester arrived in 2008, serving notice with his May 19 no-hitter against the Royals that he had become the pitcher many thought he could be back when he was breezing through the minors. His velocity rocketed back to its pre-cancer level, while his command finally blossomed at the major league level (its belated manifestation not being atypical of young southpaws). Lester's brush with mortality and subsequent success is just the latest example of baseball being a game of redeeming features, and makes the 25-year-old one of the easiest players in the game to root for, regardless of team preference. Assuming he maintains his control, Lester should continue to reward his well-wishers in coming seasons.
2008 Simply pitching so soon after undergoing chemotherapy to treat lymphoma was a feat, so reading too much into Lester's 2007 performance would be a mistake. He was up and down after his July promotion, turning in consecutive effective outings just once. His World Series start-5 2/3 shutout innings in Colorado touching 93 mph at times-was a revelation. He's not Buchholz, but he can play Sid Fernandez to Buchholz's Dwight Gooden.
2007 After dominating the Eastern League in 2005, Lester was held in higher regard than even Jonathan Papelbon. Nonetheless, expectations that he would contribute in 2006 were tempered by his lack of experience above Double-A and concerns about overtaxing his arm. Pitching well on a short leash at Pawtucket, he got the call when the injury bug bit in June, and ran off a string of seven starts in which he allowed no more than two runs, lowering his ERA to 2.38 with eight shutout innings in the last of them. Then things unraveled; he was shellacked in five of his next six starts before sustaining a back strain in a car accident. While treating the injury, doctors diagnosed Lester with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a treatable type of cancer. Thanks to chemotherapy, he was in remission by mid-December and planning to be ready for spring training. Like the rest of the baseball world, we wish him good health and eagerly await his return, no matter the timeframe.
2006 The best pitcher in the Eastern League last year. He led the circuit in ERA and strikeouts and is one of the best pitching prospects in the game. A 2nd-round selection out of high school in 2002, Lester throws two fastballs in the low 90s, a big curve, and a changeup. A great organizational success story, he has improved at each level, adding speed on his fastball and a new cutter while maintaining his control. Had the Manny-for-A-Rod deal gone through, Lester would have headed to the Rangers. The Red Sox hope that some day he is part of the calculus when evaluating the non-deal. Will start the year in Pawtucket but might not need a full season there.
2005 The last top pick before the new Red Sox regime, Lester came straight out of high school but has managed to avoid any serious injuries so far, though he did suffer from some shoulder tightness in June. The Sox feel that he developed enough physically and mentally in '04 that they can begin to push him a little harder. Armed with a new cutter, a little extra gas on his 93-mph fastball and improved breaking pitches, Lester will be in Double-A in 2005 and is still on track for the big leagues soon after that.
2004 The team's top 2002 pick was a late signing, but a fine spring got him onto the roster at Augusta. The pride of Puyallup, Washington, mixes a 93-mph fastball with a curve and changeup. As a tall left-hander with good command and composure, he has the smooth repeatable delivery that scouts love. He'll need to improve his peripheral numbers to find success as he climbs the ladder. We'll keep you posted.

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BP Chats

2017-07-31 23:00:00 (link to chat)How would you console yourself for trading Ronald Acuna for Jon Lester if you don't win the Ship? (At least I still have Robles and Eloy)
(A sad former Acuna owner from San Jose)
I made a similar gambit dealing him for Kluber, so I guess we're Thelma and Louising this shit together, aren't we? Cheers!

Baseball world, meet my nextdoor neighbors. This singer is 15. *15*. She is the Victor Robles of pop music. Her brother - just turned 20 - produced this. He is the Vladito of pop music production: (Wilson Karaman)
2016-05-11 13:00:00 (link to chat)A recent episode of EW inspired my Crazy Idea of the Week. The discussion about how teams aren't necessarily incentivized to create juggernaut teams, but rather to win the division and roll the dice in the postseason got me thinking. Should the Cubs, who have the makings of a juggernaut on their hands, switch to a 6 man rotation to preserve the health of their arms until October? Hammel has had consistent struggles in the second half and Arrieta has said that he felt worn down in the playoffs in 2015. If the Cubs manage to continue this pace through the end of May, should they consider adding Adam Warren to their rotation and focus on maximizing their chances in the postseason?
(Will from Gainesville)
Well, yes. They probably should. I haven't seen (or don't remember) a great study on how much the fatigue of a long season affects pitching in October, but it seems very intuitive that every inning you've thrown makes you a little bit worse by the 230th or 250th. So I support this idea, with two possible exceptions:

1) If the Cubs have some chance at doing something heroic (like winning 117 games; pretty much just that. Maybe a winning streak, maybe personal achievements), they should. I've been unable to convince any of my Bay Area friends that the Warriors winning 73 was a much bigger deal than them potentially winning this year's title, but I feel that way, and if the Cubs can chase 117 without doing any real damage to their playoff chances I'd say they should; 2) if the Cubs have some reason to believe that costing Jake Arrieta a Cy Young award, or Jon Lester 20 wins, or something along those lines, would lead to great unhappiness, it'd be worth listening to those guys. But I wouldn't just assume either of those things would lead to great unhappiness, even if we're all excessively paranoid about unhappy athletes. (Sam Miller)
2016-01-29 11:00:00 (link to chat)How badly is LAA going to miss giving up Sean Newcomb? If he can iron out some control issues, what does the ceiling look like? I've seen a Jon Lester comp in several places.
(Dave from San Diego)
Ah the "if game." *IF* he irons out his control issues, he's a frontline starter. The reality is that there's work to be done in that category, and few can go from 4.9 walks per nine to under 2, like Clayton Kershaw did. How much they'll miss him will of course depend on what Simmons, and more realistically, the Angels do in the next few years. (Top 101 Chat with Craig Goldstein)
2015-10-22 14:00:00 (link to chat)Most large FA pitching contracts seem to turn into a disaster. Jon Lester has his quirks, but overall was pretty good this year. Do you feel like he'll provide $155 mil worth of value on that contract, and does he have a skill set that will hold up into mid to late 30s?
(Q-Ball from North Side)
History says there's very little chance he returns the full value of his contract. His health record is the big thing in his favor, though. I think he'll remain pretty useful and durable for at least the next three years. (Matthew Trueblood)
2015-04-16 17:00:00 (link to chat)Mike, is what we've seen out of Jon Lester so far this season the new new Lester going forward? Also, do you think Oswaldo Arcia manages to live up to some of the prospect hype this season or should I just move on in a deep keeper league?
(James from The Attic)
I doubt it, although I would like to see a decent start after this dead arm period. I do think that he's more likely to be the very good starter he was with Boston as opposed to the great starter he was last year with BOS/OAK.

I think the power will come for Arcia, just don't know if the BA ever will. In a deep league, hang on. (Mike Gianella)
2015-04-06 15:15:00 (link to chat)You watched a lot of Jon Lester's starts in Boston. How did he look when throwing to first after fielding a ground ball?
(justarobert from Santa Clara)
To be honest, and this doesn't say much for my observational skills, but I don't ever recall seeing a problem with Lester throwing to first on a fielding play. Similarly I never noticed that he never made pickoff throws to first until someone (Ben Lindbergh?) brought it up. It's amazing! What does it say about his mental state that he never does that? Will everyone steal on him? The Cardinals tried to steal four times last night (one a double steal). This is a fascinating storyline to me! (Matthew Kory)
2015-04-13 15:00:00 (link to chat)Jon Lester struggled a bit in his first start. Am I the only Cubs fan who isn't convinced he is as good as his 2014 stats? Also, why did the Cubs feel such an urgent need to sign him with so many quality pitchers hitting the free agent market after 2015?
(sdbaker2 from Gurnee)
Damn it, I answered this and the internet at starbucks went out after I submitted... Ok, a) don't judge him solely off his 2014, it was the best year of his career by far, one of the best walk years every for a pitcher who actually hit free agency. Theo said he believes Lester could age like Pettitte, if that's the case, this deal will look wonderful b) don't judge him off just one start in a Cubs uniform. Especially one in which it was pretty cold, he didn't have his best command, and he still performed semi-decently. c) They can still go and get someone like Zimmermann or Price this offseason. Adding Lester doesn't stop them from doing that. In fact, I'm quite sure that if an SP is still a need come November, they'll be quite aggressive in adding one of those top arms. (Sahadev Sharma)
2015-01-20 19:30:00 (link to chat)Are you hesitant about keeping Madison Bumgarner at all for next season because of how many innings he pitched this year?
(Tim from my couch)
Nope. I get that you can point to a guy like Verlander as an example of postseason workload perhaps impacting performance the next year, but I could just as easily point to Jon Lester, no? I'm not discounting MadBum at all. He's a monster, and all pitchers inevitably break to remind us of our hubris and insignificance. (Ben Carsley)
2014-12-18 15:00:00 (link to chat)Hey Craig. I'm curious on your thoughts on Jon Lester in 2015. I recently wrote a piece suggesting that he found a release point for the curveball that was more consistent with his other pitches that provided greater deception vs. RHH. It was similar in 2009-2010, but fell apart in 2011-2013. It generated 41% whiffs/swing vs. RHH compared to just 25% in previous years and slugging just .151 compared to .338 in 2013. His strikeout rate vs. righties rose from league average to above a batter per inning. Why has this been lost on people? Are you buying that the changes are sustainable?
(Matt from Cambridge)
This is a good, in depth question, but I'd caution against assuming anything is "lost on people." The vast majority of people don't give a flying **** about Jon Lester's whiff rate on his curve, so it's not lost on them so much as they're not analysts who are trying to explain what's going on. I think the release point is a nice find, to be honest and likely has some truth to it, but more than anything you're correlating things, which doesn't necessarily denote causation.

I also would not that the emphasis on the curveball is a bit surprising to me. Yes it took a huge jump but he also about 600 of them, compared to 1100 cutters, which your article noted a jump in whiff/swing too. Given the volume difference, I think the cutter had at least as much of an impact on his season than did the curve. This is before we even get to sequencing or anything like that. Again, it's a good find, in terms of release point and the effects that it may of have on Lester's season, but it's not a complete picture in terms of *how* that whiff/swing changed.

I'd also caution going all in on rate stats without providing the frame of reference that is the raw pitch count data. We're talking a 41% whiff/swing rate on the curve, but the actuality of that is 111 swings and misses over the course of a whole season. The other issue to me with whiff/swing is it discounts the called strike to a degree. I don't know if that degree is correct or not, but I'd think it was worth finding out. (Craig Goldstein)
2014-11-18 13:00:00 (link to chat)where do Jon Lester and Max Scherzer go?!?!?!???!!!
(Rich from Cedar Rapids)
That's a lot of punctuation, Rich! Right now, I'll say Lester back to Boston and Scherzer to the Yankees. (Daniel Rathman)
2014-11-18 13:00:00 (link to chat)What is the health status of Brandon Beachy and how does the Shelby Miller trade effect his 2015 season? Also how does it look for of Patrick Corbin and Tony Cingrani healthwise for 2015? Thanks for the chat, and all the knowledge, you pass along!
(Dragonbreath from Gurnee, IL.)
I haven't seen much recent new on the health statuses of Beachy and Medlen, but I wouldn't consider the acquisition of Miller as any sort of reflection on those. I'd imagine the Braves were more concerned with maximizing their return on Heyward a year away from his free agency. There is room for both Beachy and Medlen in the rotation if they are healthy. One thing to keep an eye out: I saw reports this morning that the Braves are courting Jon Lester, or at least having him in for a visit. It's hard to say if this will have any bearing on his decision, but I believe Lester lives in Georgia during the offseason.

I'd expect Cingrani to be ready to roll on Opening Day-whether it's as a starter remains to be seen-and Corbin to return around June. (Daniel Rathman)
2014-12-10 13:00:00 (link to chat)What beer goes best with Jon Lester? How about Samardzija?
(Todd Ricketts from My bike shop)
Lester has the bulldog mentality on the mound, he looks thick and big out there, so I'd go with a nice stout, preferably barrel-aged. Samardzija has the long hair and is tall and lean, I'd go with something lighter, perhaps a Gose. (Sahadev Sharma)
2014-12-10 13:00:00 (link to chat)Do you see the Cubs making any more big splashes after the signing of Jon Lester??
(bleedingcubbieblue from Palos Hills)
It's possible, they could certainly go after a big bat like Kemp or J. Upton, but I get the feeling that's unlikely. Perhaps there's a name out there that we're unaware is available, but I think they'd prefer a LH OF bat with OBP skills. Not sure who that guy is, at least of the big name variety. (Sahadev Sharma)
2014-10-31 13:00:00 (link to chat)Who is the best fit right now for the Cubs in terms of pitching? They have young hitters coming up, but do they go for a young pitcher already doing well via trade or do they go after an older Free Agent ala No Game James Shields?
(vegetto712 from Orlando)
Jon Lester.

It's an easy name to throw out there because of the Theo connection, but once you step back and think about it, there are multiple reasons Lester should be a good fit. He is a pitcher in the heart of his prime, a rather good one, and he also does have that connection with Theo. It just makes sense.
Also, Jeff wrote a nice report on him: (Tucker Blair)
2014-08-29 12:00:00 (link to chat)Drew Smyly. Rays magic?
(Ken Tuckee from wilshire)
Smyly is a solid pitcher, but he's probably just on a hot run. Tommy Rancel noted over the weekend that he's using his cutter more to his arm side, which is lifted from the Jon Lester playbook (and something I wanted to see from him). He's got three quality pitches, control, brains, and guts. You don't need a whole lot more to find success in the majors. Let's just give it a little more time before we buy into him as a monster. (R.J. Anderson)
2014-07-29 14:00:00 (link to chat)Considering he is the #1 trade piece I noticed something very odd in Jon Lester's pitch f/x data. First of all he completely lost his vertical release point on the curve ball from the collapse of 2011-the end of 2013. He also have problems with the movement on his cutter. Was this not noticed? Why was this not fixed earlier? If a pitcher is slow to make adjustments, does that predict the speed of how quickly adjustments can be made in the future? I just see a guy who was pretty mediocre for a few seasons and the lightbulb went on in the offseason
(Matt from Cambridge)
Lester was actually more consistent with his curveball release point during that period than in prior years. His cutter was a bit off in 2012-2013, but it's back now. I'm pretty sure the Sox thought there was something wrong, and it was tough to watch him pitch during that stretch. Can Lester make adjustments in the future? I sure hope so! And in a Red Sox uniform! (Noah Woodward)
2014-08-08 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hi Craig, in my 20 team dynasty league I recently traded Jon Lester for Devin Mesoraco plus the 9th overall pick in next years draft? How do you think I made out? Thanks.
(Charles from Hotlanta)
If I were your friend I'd say "that's an interesting choice you've made there, Chaz" but we don't really know each other so I'll tell you straight up I think you made a mistake. I don't think Lester is losing his skills anytime soon, and while I like Mesoraco, I don't think he's the next Lucroy. I might be wrong though -- and part of it rests on the value of the 9th overall pick. So I'm working with limited info here. Let's be friends though! (Craig Goldstein)
2014-07-31 19:30:00 (link to chat)I understand Cespedes was a free agent after 2015, but was it worth shedding him now when Oakland has a shot at the title?
(Alex from Anaheim)
You know they got Jon Lester in return, right? (Ben Carsley)
2014-07-31 19:30:00 (link to chat)In 2015,The Red Sox top 2 starters are: ______ and _______?
(NightmareRec0n from Boston)
Jon Lester and Justin Masterson la la la la la I can't hear you telling me that's unrealistic (Ben Carsley)
2014-07-31 19:30:00 (link to chat)You are being completely realistic. Jon Lester will be back in Boston on opening day***Grabs bottle of whisky and goes to order A's Lester shirsey***
(NightmareRec0n from Boston)
This is what I am saying, thank you. And I really am getting an As Lester shirsey. We should all wear them around Kenmore with pride. (Ben Carsley)
2014-07-24 19:00:00 (link to chat)It has been reported they are not negotiating during the season, the Red Sox decide to trade Jon Lester, what kind of return could they get? Considering the Shark return and Price might not be traded. Will Lester be the latest piece that heads to the Cubs in Theo's master plan to acquire all former Red Sox players?
(Matt from Cambridge)
It wouldn't be an Addison Russell Billy McKinney return for just Lester but it'd be a pretty nice return. I don't think the Cubs would make a trade for Lester and give up one of their bats at the deadline. I think they might rather gamble and see if they can bring him in via free agency. (Mauricio Rubio)
2014-07-24 19:00:00 (link to chat)Hi Mauricio, thanks for taking our questions. Dynasty league question for you. In a vacuum what do you think of a trade of Jon Lester for Devin Mesoraco? Is it fair value? If not which side has to add and by how much?
(Charles Manx from Shorter Way Bridge)
1v1 in a vacuum it's about equal with me giving the slight nod to Mesoraco. (Mauricio Rubio)
2014-04-08 14:00:00 (link to chat)So I sent a behemoth of detailed question on Jon Lester for the podcast.....
(Matt from Cambridge)
It was a great question, Matt, and I really appreciated the details + background info/analysis that you included with your question. We will definitely be using it on Episode 20 of TINSTAAPP. (Doug Thorburn)
2013-10-30 12:00:00 (link to chat)If there is a game 7, how many pitches will Jon Lester throw in it? How many will John Lackey throw it in? How many will Koji Uehara throw in it?
(William from Los Angeles)
Lackey won't be back for a Game 7. If he throws a lot of pitches and Boston loses he won't be back, and if he gets crushed so much so that he doesn't throw many pitches, the team won't want him back even if he can come back. Wouldn't shock me if Lester threw an inning, but almost certainly not more than that. Koji may throw six. (Matthew Kory)
2013-07-23 13:00:00 (link to chat)Are you worried more about Clay Bucholz's lat/neck, Jon Lester's psyche or Lackey's descent back to earth the most?
(jlarsen from Chicago burbs)
Clay's health. He's a fun young pitcher and I'd like to see him around in good form. (Harry Pavlidis)
2013-04-11 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hey, Matthew. I watched the first few innings of Dickey's start against the Sox from the Rogers Centre pressbox, and caused a considerable commotion, repeatedly smashing my head against the wall. Could you articulate the emotions you felt during that eventful opening frame? I'd tell you how I felt, but the expletives might offend some readers.
(Jonah Birenbaum from Ottawa)
I was expecting a pitcher's duel between Dickey and Jon Lester. Lester showed up at least. No, I thought that Dickey just didn't look right and then he tried to sneak a fastball past Will Middlebrooks with two on and two in and that didn't work. Still, I think it's just two bad starts and the chances are good Dickey figures this out and starts pitching more to what was expected of him.

And now I realize that I didn't answer your question. Elation is what I felt. It's wonderful to see the Red Sox play good baseball after the last few seasons, Joel Hanrahan's performance last night notwithstanding. Is that one word? Three words? Two and a half? The cold is numbing my brain. I need to go inside. (Matthew Kory)
2012-12-19 13:00:00 (link to chat)When people say Matt Barnes has the potential to be a number 2, what does that really mean? Who are some current major league pitchers that you consider to be number 2s?
(Tom from Mainer)
That you're looking at a pitcher that can be above-average to well above-average at the major league level. I always saw Jon Lester prior to his rough 2012 season as a number 2. Barnes may end up a notch below that, or a number 3, but he's got potential for some seasons on that level. (Chris Mellen)
2012-11-29 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hi Dan, thanks for the chat. If you are Dayton Moore, do you even begin to think about trading a guy like Wil Myers for Jon Lester or James Shields?
(Chris from AZ)
You have to always consider a deal for an established, high-end starting pitcher, especially when your side is moving an unproven minor leaguer. That doesn't mean that you have to do it. Myers' value will never be higher than it is right now. Those two starters you mentioned might not even be available, so don't get too excited. It all comes down to what your other options are, and how much they will cost in terms of players, money, and commitment. The Royals are on the brink of some really good things, and that fan base is so damn ready for a winning product. Dayton Moore has a good feel for the game, and learned from one of the greatest GM's ever in John Schuerholz. (Dan Evans)
2012-11-20 13:00:00 (link to chat)Jason, even with Iwakuma's re-signing, it still feels like the M's still need to address the rotation. What are your thoughts on Jon Lester, and what kind of cost would be attached to trading for him?
(Tom from Seattle)
I see Seattle lying in the weeds on rotation upgrades. If they need the cash, they can try and trade Vargas and the $8 mil or so he'll get in arbitration and toss that at another arm, but the focus has to be offense and that is where most of the assets have to be spent this winter. It won't be a perfect team, even if they get the bats they want the most, but they'll be well on their way. Unrelated note, Seattle just traded Trayvon Robinson to Baltimore for Robert Andino. World Series. (Jason A. Churchill)
2012-11-20 13:00:00 (link to chat)It's my hunch that it's only a matter of time until Giancarlo Stanton requests a trade. Given that EVERY team in MLB would jump in on this, who has either the most pieces or the best pieces to match up with the Marlins needs?
(Tom from Seattle )
I think it might take a three-way deal for Miami to get true value, which is why I don't see anything happening anytime real soon, regardless of how unhappy he is with the organization. Also, Tom, on Jon Lester -- I think he's damaged goods. I wouldn't give up value for him right now. (Jason A. Churchill)
2012-08-07 13:00:00 (link to chat)What has happened to Jon Lester? Just an off year or something more worrisome? Have you heard anything from scouts on him?
(Wicked Fah from Boston)
I wish I knew. I've had some scouts who think there are some mechanical issues. (Kevin Goldstein)
2012-07-25 13:30:00 (link to chat)Do you think the Red Sox would trade Ellsbury seeing as its unlikely he'll resign after the 2013 season because of his agent. And what do you think is wrong with the Sox? They seem to have a lot of great pieces.
(Ben from Canada)
This time tomorrow, I'll be in Ben in Canada, as I'm about to make my semi-annual pilgrimage to BC. For now, though, I'm still Ben in Manhattan, so let me try to answer your question. I think the odds are against an Ellsbury trade. He might re-sign, and if he doesn't, he'll get them a comp pick in the 2014 draft. As my old pal Marc Normandin points out, the Sox are probably hoping that Jackie Bradley will be ready to replace him in center in the event that he leaves.

As for the Sox' struggles: some answers can be found on the disabled list, but it doesn't help that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester (one of the most consistently good starters in baseball over the past four seasons) have been unexpectedly bad. Whether you want to assign any blame to this season's various clubhouse flare-ups is a decision between you and your god.

You're right about the good pieces, though. Despite everything that's gone wrong, the Sox are still at .500 and technically in contention. (Ben Lindbergh)
2011-05-23 13:00:00 (link to chat)Is Ryan Raburn even worth holding onto in AL leagues at this point?
(paulbellows from Calgary)
You can gauge my fantasy expertise, or lack thereof, by the fact that I traded a $20 Jon Lester for a $5 Ryan Raburn in my 12-team AL-only league this spring. I'm still holding onto him and hoping for the best, but I'm doubtful he's going to see anything close to the 500 ABs I was hoping for in spring. I still believe he has hitting talent. He's not going to hit for a great average, but his power is good enough, and his glove will help keep him in the field. However, Boesch is pushing his playing time, and Detroit is in a position in the division where they may be less likely to be patient with Raburn's early struggles. (Mike Fast)
2011-04-05 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hi Steven. After the Red Sox cut Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and fire Terry Francona they can still win 140 games and win the World Series, right?
(mattymatty2000 from Portland, OR)
The panic in Boston is as exaggerated as this question, and I'm sure that if an angel sent Lot into the city to find 20 good men who weren't panicked by an early sweep, he would easily fulfill his quota and spare Beantown a hail of brimstone. The Red Sox are still the class of the league. Some champions go wire-to-wire, some don't. That's all it is. (Steven Goldman)
2010-09-21 13:00:00 (link to chat)What do you make of the Cy Young argument in the American League?
(Bobby G from Helena)
I think it should be Felix Hernandez or Jon Lester, and it comes down to their last few starts. Lester seemed like he had fallen out of the race, but he has been nigh untouchable for about five starts now and propelled himself right back into it. I wrote something about it about a week ago, but then he went and shut the Jays down over the weekend as well. Here's a link! (Marc Normandin)
2010-06-28 14:00:00 (link to chat)Where does Jon Lester fit into the discussion of being one of baseballs finest hurlers....?
(caseyj15 from Medford, Oregon)
He might be a top five guy. Taking more than just half a season into account I'd put Halladay, Lincecum, and Lee above him, and maybe Josh Johnson as well, but there aren't a whole lot of others who definitively belong above him. (Jay Jaffe)
2010-04-28 13:00:00 (link to chat)I know he started slowly in 2009 also, but how long before Jon Lester turns things around this year?
(mcquown from Chicago)
That's a hard question to answer in some ways, but presumably not very long. Nothing appears to be wrong physically and his stuff seems fine. I was at Fenway for a game recentyly where he struck out the side in the first inning but then quickly devolved into suckitude. Good pitchers usually get over these bumps sooner rather than later, and if doesn't, well....the Red Sox are in deep doo doo. (David Laurila)
2010-02-11 13:00:00 (link to chat)How would you rate in order the following pitchers by overall (short and long term) value? Johan Santana, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Randy Wells, Derek Lowe and Josh Johnson.
(caseyj15 from Medford, OR)
Short term: Santana, Johnson, Beckett, Lester, Lowe, Wells

Long term: Santana, Johnson, Lester, Beckett, Wells, Lowe (Shawn Hoffman)
2010-01-21 13:00:00 (link to chat)The first Red Sox player to be selected in a non-keeper fantasy league is _____.
(BR from NYC)
Jon Lester. (Marc Normandin)
2009-09-14 16:30:00 (link to chat)Jon Lester: great pitcher or the greatest pitcher? But seriously, folks, how awesome has Lester been? I know that's terrible question, but I'm sending it in anyway. Thanks for the chat!
(mattymatty from Phillly, PA)
"I'll put you down for greatest."

In all honesty, his ridiculous jump in strikeout rate is insane! Without even dropping his walk rate too! It looks like he is throwing all the same pitches, and only a little bit faster than before, but just getting people to miss like crazy. It's a great story, and he's a great story in general. (Matt Swartz)
2009-09-02 13:00:00 (link to chat)Just how good is Jon Lester?
(mattymatty from Philly)
As odd as this may sound, Lester has done so well that he is no longer thought of as a cancer-survivor pitching in the big leagues. As I wrote in our Player Profile of him last year, reputations are hard to shake in the big league level, and Lester has performed so well that he has transformed his rep from "he survived a debilitating illness to become an MLB pitcher" to "he's one of the best lefties in the game." (Eric Seidman)
2009-09-08 13:00:00 (link to chat)I'm not going to win the Cy Young somehow, am I?
(Mo Rivera from Bronx)
I know your ERA is shiny, but do you really deserve it, Mo? Jon Lester is worth about three times as many wins as you, and he isn't even my pick for AL Cy Young (hi Zack Greinke!) (Marc Normandin)
2009-07-13 14:00:00 (link to chat)Still think we've already seen the best of Jon Lester's career?
(judy from MA)
With a 60% in K rate and no loss of other features, I'd have to say that I'm open to the idea that I was wrong. Keep in mind that he's still not as good, overall, as he was a year ago.

The lesson here is probably to remember that players with nonstandard development paths--Lester's was interrupted by cancer--need to be regarded carefully. (Joe Sheehan)
2009-06-24 13:00:00 (link to chat)In reference to J.P. from Harford's non-question about jerseys, purchasing a jersey is an interesting conundrum. On one hand you want to have one of your favorite player, but on the other you have to be careful that your favorite player doesn't end up playing against your favorite team in a year's time. This is not only embarrassing (see "Damon, Johnny"), but expensive (see "Damon, Johnny"). I just recently put in for a Jon Lester jersey. Lester is signed through 2014 if the Red Sox want him that long. By that time I'll hopefully have saved up for another jersey if necessary.... I guess I don't have a question either.
(mattymatty from Philly)
I initially read that as "I just recently put in for a Johnny LeMaster jersey," which would make you my hero of the day. Or I would feel really sorry for your delusional state. I'm not sure which. Roy Sievers would be a much better choice. (Steven Goldman)
2009-06-18 13:00:00 (link to chat)Marc, you're always very methodical, realistic, and fact based in your assesment of future player performance. How about making a bold, gut-based prediction - right here, right now?
(ericmilburn from San Francisco)
Hey, I appreciate that a lot. So I hope that means no one holds this against me. Jon Lester will win the AL Cy Young this year. (Marc Normandin)
2009-05-18 14:00:00 (link to chat)Have we seen the best of Jon Lester, or is this just a temporary bump in the road?
(mattymatty from Philly)
I'll admit to being a Lester believer, but I accept that many of my colleagues disagree and have suggested that we've seen his best work. I think his PECOTA comps are appropriately suggestive, given his age; I see Bob Knepper '79 or Tom Glavine '91, and I figure the upside play's worth dreaming on, even while I'd admit that it's a reach. (Christina Kahrl)
2009-04-06 13:00:00 (link to chat)"He may be the Red Sox' second-best starting pitcher by October." Who's #1? Beckett or Lester?
(Justin from Chapel Hill, NC)
Beckett. I think we just saw Jon Lester's best season. (Joe Sheehan)
2009-02-16 14:00:00 (link to chat)Jon Lester will pitch ____ innings this season.
(mhixpgh from Pittsburgh)
204.2. I was gonna go with 206, but there is that start against the Twins in August when Francona is going to pull him too early. (Kevin Goldstein)
2009-02-17 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hey Bryan, long time no chat. I've been reading your stuff for years, and I remember Jon Lester was always one of your favorites, going back to when he was a little-known prospect and you correctly predicted a breakout 2005 double A season for him. You said back then that lefties with his kind of stuff are very rare. Now that he's more polished, I'm curious to hear how you think his stuff rates on the scouting scale. Were you surprised by his stellar 2008 season, and what do you see in his future? Do you think he could be great, as opposed to just very good? Would you take Lester or Sabathia for the next five years? THANKS, and great to see you around again!
(Christina from Brookline)
Thanks Christina, good to be here. That was a good year for my breakout prospect list, and I've been admiring Lester ever since. As far as southpaws go, few have better stuff than Lester, who really broke through after adding that final pitch a year ago. I have to admit I didn't see such success coming as soon as 2008, when he really wasn't far down the Cy Young ballot. I think you have to take Sabathia for the next five years, but I do think Lester can develop into a real ace. (Bryan Smith)
2009-02-10 14:00:00 (link to chat)Which AL starters do you think can consistently be among the best in terms of pitching the most innings and allowing the fewest runs over the next three years (other than Halladay and Sabathia)?
(DS from Monterey Park, CA)
I guess I like rolling the dice after all, but I think Jon Lester, John Danks, and King Felix are all ready to settle in and start doing better and better things. (Christina Kahrl)
2009-01-29 13:00:00 (link to chat)Do you think Jon Lester will continue to improve this year?
(Lily from Boston)
In the sense that he won't start out pitching poorly, yes. I'm not sure that he can do much better than what he did once he put things together though. I would expect more along the lines of his excellent run from that start against Halladay onward, which will make his overall 2009 stats appear better than his 2008 ones. (Marc Normandin)
2008-12-23 14:00:00 (link to chat)Would you rather have the next 7 years of Jon Lester or Zack Greinke? How about Clay Kershaw or Francisco Liriano?
(doog7642 from Blaine, MN)
Lester and Liriano, but that's as much about who they're with as it is a comment strictly about their talent. (Christina Kahrl)
2008-11-19 13:00:00 (link to chat)I recall you writing somewhere that you had a theory that Jon Lester seemed to become stronger towards the end of the season, in spite of pitching many more innings than he had ever before, because he had built up stamina when he was pitching in a weakened state in 2007, his "recovery" year. Could you elaborate, and do you think his performance next year will suffer from his 70 inning jump this year?
(Opel from Boston)
Just a theory. I think his 2007 had a "multiplier" in there because he was building stamina at less than full strength and came out fine. The Red Sox have much better data and over the next few years, they're going to really build an advantage with pitchers unless some other teams catch up. Mike Reinold might end up as valuable as any player on their team by 2012. (Will Carroll)
2008-10-17 13:00:00 (link to chat)Did you see any markers from Jon Lester that indicate excessive fatigue/injury or was it just one of those games where good hitters beat a good pitcher?
(Joe from Tewksbury, MA)
Looked a bit tired, wasn't as sharp, just couldn't establish himself. I don't think the Sox - a team that can quantify strength and fatigue in addition to having a solid pitching coach - would send him out there with excessive anything. (Will Carroll)
2008-10-14 13:00:00 (link to chat)You are Theo Epstein: would you trade Jon Lester for Brian McCann?
(mattymatty from Philly)
Two separate people just suggested this.

Yes, I do. But I'm ridiculously high on McCann, and am notoriously wary of pitchers. (Joe Sheehan)
2008-10-06 14:00:00 (link to chat)Which teams has the better chance to pull the upset, the Angels or the White Sox?
(Rob from Brighton)
White Sox. They're facing the lesser team, with Game Four at home, and instead of facing Jon Lester, they're facing Andrew Sonnanstine. (Joe Sheehan)
2008-08-29 12:00:00 (link to chat)Recent start in Toronto notwithstanding, is Jon Lester as good as he's pitched this year?
(doughowgate from Boston)
I think the big question with Lester is whether or not his step forward in G/F ratio is sustainable. If you take a look at his pre-season PECOTA card (, he's way down in the bottom 20% of pitchers in G/F--a flyball pitcher. Last year his ratio was 0.77, the year before that 1.03. This year it's up to 1.43, and he's gotten 23 ground-ball double plays already, which has obviously been huge because his WHIP (1.30) isn't fantastic. With all those grounders he's also cut his homer rate by a huge amount. Given that he's 24 I certainly wouldn't bet against this being the start of a really great career. (Caleb Peiffer)
2008-06-18 13:00:00 (link to chat)Who do you think should start the All Star game for the AL? I think it should be Kazmir. You better not say Mussina...
(Erik from OPS,FL)
Francona picking for a game played in Yankee? I don't think you can say Jon Lester, though that would be my pick. Mussina? Hell, it's an exhibition. Why not? (Will Carroll)
2008-05-20 13:00:00 (link to chat)Jon Lester: middling pitcher who got lucky last night? Or is he as good as his champions insist?
(Nick Stone from New York, NY)
Hey Nick! It certainly helped that Lester was facing the Royals, a team whose offense I referred to in the Hit List a couple weeks back as the Double-A affiliate of the Little Sisters of the Poor, though they do fare better against lefties than righties.

Lester is a pitcher who's got some upside, but PECOTA doesn't love him. The current weighted mean forecast on his card is for a 5.04 ERA, and it's not hard to see why; his track record is that of a flyball pitcher who tends to walk too many hitters relative to the number he strikes out. He's walking 4.2 per nine even after last night, and striking out 5.7 -- not a very good ratio, but he
s gotten away with it this year thanks in part to a .255 BABIP.

Beating cancer is a great story, and pitching a no-hitter is icing on the cake, but he's still got work to do to become a top-shelf pitcher. (Jay Jaffe)
2008-03-26 12:00:00 (link to chat)What do you see for Edison Volquez this year? And is Jon Lester going to vastly underperform the RSN expectations? He puts far too many men on base.
(big baby from nj)
I know Volquez is the popular breakout pitcher this year, with Milledge taking that title as breakout hitter. Talk about post-hype breakout candidates, huh? Volquez is good, but he's going to have a lot of bad starts ... remember, he's never been consistent. And when you ask me about Lester, you have to remember I'm a huge fanboy. I think he's only going to improve from last year's start. (Bryan Smith)
2008-01-14 13:00:00 (link to chat)Hi Will: Who do you see as comeback player of the year in 2008? Were you serious about Schilling for Cy Young; can he stay healthy enough to rack up those wins. The Sox were pretty cautious with him this year and it paid off well.
(Pat Barry from Albany NY)
The Sox weren't cautious, they were smart. I think they can be smart all season and given the Sox talent, anyone that makes 34 starts for them could get to 20 wins. Note that the Cy is almost always decided on wins, which makes it relatively easy to predict. I'm not saying they're the BEST pitcher out there (though Sabathia was ... tho Bedard was better aside from the injury, but was on a terrible team.)

I'll admit to not really understanding the comeback player award. I'd guess someone like Ryan or maybe even Jon Lester could get votes. (Will Carroll)
2008-01-28 13:00:00 (link to chat)Kevin Goldstein has said that towards the end of the season, it looked like Jon Lester's stuff was coming back to pre-cancer form. Gammons mentioned that his changeup and curveball improved dramatically in the postseason. What did you see, and how do you think Jon Lester will perform this season? Do you think it's a good bet his command will improve? Do you still see him as having a high ceiling?
(Kris from NJ)
Oh, there is an absolutely undeniable difference between Lester in that gutsy first start against Cleveland and Lester in the playoffs. Against the Indians in the regular season, his stuff was not back, particularly his curveball I thought. I think he will be much better this season, and I'm just so glad his ceiling will be unaffected by the bump in the road he had to deal with. (Bryan Smith)

BP Roundtables

DateRoundtable NameComment
2008-10-13 17:00:00NLCS Game FourAs far as tonight goes...well, I'm the guy who thought Jon Lester at Fenway against the Rays was just this side of a gimme.

I'm kinda rooting for the Phillies to hit lots of singles to center with a runner on second.

I don't know exactly who the coverage is aimed at, Gary, but it occurs to me that there are more of them than there are of us. And they vote. (Joe Sheehan)
2008-10-02 11:00:00Thursday Playoff GamesHey Joe, Jon Lester says hi. (Will Carroll)

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