Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/17/14
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 lose the games, but I blame ownership for creating the toxic environment that poisoned the careers, reputations, and relationships of many of the team’s most recognized stars. Under new manager John Farrell, Lester and the rest of the Red Sox will look to return to the kind of play we saw from them as recently as August 2011, back when Boston was a contender and Lester was one of the game’s best pitchers. At a Glance Strengths: K, QS, IP Neutral: W, L, ERA, WHIP, BB Weaknesses: none Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: Zack Greinke (LAD) Likely scenario: Yovani Gallardo (MIL), Matt Moore (TB), Tim Lincecum (SF) Worst-case scenario: Derek Holland (TEX) Jon Lester 2013 Fantasy Projection Admittedly, much of the optimism in our Lester projection is based on intangibles and gut feeling, something I really try to avoid on our site. That said, the drama that unfolded in the Red Sox organization beginning in September of 2011 is so incredibly shocking that I can’t just ignore it. I can’t wait to read Terry Francona’s tell-all book, Francona: The Red Sox Years. With Farrell back in the clubhouse, a figure that even the petulant Clay Buchholz found intimidating by his own admission, I have a hard time imagining this team, specifically the pitching staff, succumbing to the poor conditioning and general apathy that plagued them in the final days of Francona’s reign and the entirety of Bobby Valentine’s perpetually contentious tenure. Lester has all the tools, and I’m willing to gamble on him closely resembling what we saw just two years ago. Tweet
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron's triple-double leads Cavs to win in OT thriller

Report: Adrian Peterson will skip Vikings first OTAs

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

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat trick, sets career high for goals

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

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

LeBron lifts Cavaliers to brink of Finals, but are they ready?

Will Phil Jackson give himself a chance to succeed with Knicks?

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

Federer unhappy with security after fan comes on court

WATCH: LeBron throws down ferocious dunk in traffic

WATCH: Al Horford ejected for elbowing Matthew Dellavedova

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

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

Most valuable non-QB for each NFL team

WATCH: LeBron's ferocious dunk in traffic

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

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.