There was a time when I thought Jon Lester was a future Cy Young candidate. The year was 2008. Lester had just come back after missing most of the 2006 and 2007 seasons battling cancer and helped pitch the Red Sox to a 4-0 World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
In that ’08 season he went 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA over 210.1 innings and was still building back strength. In 2009 Lester went 15-8 with a 3.41 ERA but raised his strikeout rate almost 50% to 9.96 K/9. He was one of the American League’s best young, dominant starting pitchers, and he seemed ready to take the next step and become a perennial name at the forefront of the Cy Young conversation.
Lester’s 2010 season only strengthened his case as he won 19 games, dropped his ERA to 3.25 and maintained his elite strikeout rate. The wheels came off in September of 2011 when Boston’s infamous collapse signaled the beginning of almost two years of infighting, mismanagement, and a lot of losing.
The players are the ones who win and ...