Born on January 7, 1984 in Tacoma, Washington, Jon Lester (Jonathan Tyler Lester) plays for the Boston Red Sox. Lester broke into the bigs on June 10, 2006 with the Boston Red Sox, and put up a 4.76 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched in 2006, his rookie year.
The southpaw has three plus pitches with a fastball that sits around 92-93 with late life, a slider, and a changeup that he can locate in any count. He also throws a curve, but it isn't as good as his other pitches. Baseball America ranks him as Boston's top prospect, even ahead of Jonathan Papelbon. He has the stuff to be a major league ace.
Lester has been asked about in several trades, but the Red Sox are now unwilling to part with him. He was almost shipped to Texas in the famed Manny Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez deal that never was. And he was also heavily sought after by the Florida Marlins, but the Red Sox sent Anibal Sanchez in exchange for Josh Beckett instead.
In early September 2006, Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma, a rare, treatable form of cancer. Lester battled back from the disease to win the clinching Game 4 of the Red Sox' 2007 World Series. On May 19, 2008, Lester threw his first career no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals, winning 7-0. The only other no-hitter thrown against the Royals was by the great Nolan Ryan.
Below is a batter-by-batter recap of Lester's no-hitter.
2: Jose Guillen flied out to Ramirez. Billy Butler walked. Miguel Olivo grounded into a fielder's choice, 3B Mike Lowell to Pedroia. Olivo reached second on pickoff throwing error by Lester. Mark Teahen grounded out to Lester.
4: Grudzielanek struck out. Gordon flied out to CF Jacoby Ellsbury. Guillen lined out to Ellsbury.
5: Butler struck out. Oliva struck out. Teahen grounded out to Pedroia.
6: German struck out. Pena, Jr. grounded out to Lugo. DeJesus grounded out to Pedroia.
7: Grudzielanek grounded out to Lester. Gordon flied out to Ramirez. Guillen struck out.
8: Ellsbury moves to LF, Coco Crisp comes in to CF. Butler struck out. Olivo struck out. Teahen flied out to Crisp.
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Lester pitches from a low three-quarters arm angle with a deceptive delivery. He features an 88-94 mph four-seam fastball, a cut fastball, a slider, a decent changeup, and a good curveball (72-78 mph). Lester can pitch himself into and out of jams due to his sometimes sporadic control, but has historically avoided bases-loaded damage. As of 2007, he loads the bases approximately once in every four innings, but has a high volume of strikeouts when pitching from the stretch, allowing him to escape dangerous situations. The one main thing that several people believe is his problem is his pitch count. In, 2007, Lester has pitched 17 pitches per inning, which is extremely high. If he were to lower his pitch count, he might have made it past the seventh inning (something that Lester did not do during the entire 2007 season).
- Selected by Boston Red Sox in the 2nd round of the free-agent draft (June 4, 2002 - signed August 13, 2002).