Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14
F5
Red Sox manager John Farrell surprised no one on Wednesday when he announced that Jon Lester will be the team’s Opening Day starter. But the honor bestowed upon the lefty is a microcosm of Lester’s importance. The Red Sox made a bevy of offseason moves, aimed at both retooling the roster and reshaping the team’s image. The players brought in come not only with skill sets that should mesh on the field, but also with positive attitudes that should create a more productive clubhouse atmosphere. Through all of the additions and changes of the past six months, though, one overriding fact remains: the Red Sox need to pitch better in 2013. The man most important to that effort is Lester. The Red Sox’ last two seasons have been tumultuous, to say the least, and Lester has received — deservedly so — as much criticism as anyone. Once one of the most reliable left-handers in the game, Lester collapsed alongside his teammates in 2011, and then struggled mightily throughout all of 2012. He went 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA during the thick of 2011′s playoff race, and went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA while pitching for Bobby Valentine‘s much-scrutinized 2012 team. There’s a different feeling surrounding this year’s outlook, though. Lester arrived in camp saying the right things, but he also seems to understand that words can only go so far, especially when an organization that demands success hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008. Now, he’s ready to enter the season looking like the pitcher who was once considered by many to be the team’s ace. Lester tossed four scoreless innings in his final tune-up on Wednesday, and he closes the book on his spring with a 0.75 ERA and 0.50 WHIP. Lester allowed just two earned runs over 24 innings in his six Grapefruit League starts, and opposing batters hit just .101 against the lefty. Obviously, it’s still spring training. If Lester flops this season, no one is going to remember the six perfect innings he threw against the Rays on St. Patrick’s Day or the fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratio he posted in six starts. The 29-year-old has been around for plenty of ups and downs, though, so he understands this, and he seems to be in a good place with the April 1 season opener looming. “I think in spring, you could look at it both ways,” Lester told reporters on Wednesday. “You can look at is as, OK, I’m hitting my stride at the right time. I’m finally clicking and things are going good. Like I’ve said after each one, it’s good to have good results. It reinforces all the work you put into it and the adjustments and you see the swings at certain pitches and it’s like, ‘Man, this is me.’ With that being said, there’s still going to be times where you get waffled. That’s just part of being a pitcher. I think those times will be few and far between.” For the Red Sox’ sake, Lester’s bad outings need to be few and far between, or else Boston will find itself in a situation similar to last year’s. Each of the team’s five starters is capable of turning in a solid performance on any given night, and the team will need consistency from top to bottom, but Lester is the guy. How Lester fares this season has the potential to dictate the overall effectiveness of the staff. If he can rebound to become a stopper every fifth day — like he once was — everything else has the potential to fall into place. The Red Sox’ offense is a bit banged up, and David Ortiz’s injury will undoubtedly impact the unit right out of the gate. That makes it even more essential for the Lester-led rotation to hit the ground running. “All the words — honor, privilege — all of that, especially for this organization, to be named that,” Lester said of being named Boston’s Opening Day starter for the third straight year. “I take it with great pride, and I’ll go out there and give it a good start and hopefully get this team off to a good start this season.” If Lester truly is back to his old self, a good start will only be a precursor to an even better finish. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Corey Brewer: We got our butt kicked, it was embarrassing

Brian Kelly hints Notre Dame will have fast offense

John Madden: Last play of Super Bowl will 'torment' Pete Carroll

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat trick, sets career high for goals

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Seahawks fan starts GoFundMe for Russell Wilson's contract

Billy Donovan thanks Florida fans with full-page ad

WATCH: Daniel Cormier gets into it with Ryan Bader

Jim Harbaugh compares his driving to Jeff Gordon's

WATCH: High school seals win with perfect hidden ball trick

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kelly drops hint about ND offense

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.