Jon Lester may have run out of gas in D.C., but he retires one of the best playoff pitchers of this generation.
When Jon Lester signed with the Nationals on a one-year deal at the start of the 2021 season, he was nearing the end of his career. As the 2021 season pushed on, it became clear Lester didn’t have it anymore. In 16 starts with Washington, he went 3-5, with a 5.02 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and a 5.43 FIP.
A workhorse for the majority of his career, he only threw 6+ innings in three of his 16 Nationals starts. By July the Nats had fallen out of playoff contention and decided to blow up their roster, shipping Lester to St. Louis. There, the veteran rebounded and was key in the Cardinals reaching the playoffs.
38 and a free agent after the season ended, it was fair to ask if Lester was going to try and run it back for another season or ride off into the sunset. That question was finally answered today with Lester telling ESPN’s Jesse Rogers he was finally retiring.
"“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester told Rogers. “It’s getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance. I’d like to think I’m a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don’t want someone else telling me I can’t do this anymore. I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, ’thank you, it’s been fun.’ That’s probably the biggest deciding factor.”"
Lester’s stint in Washington will go down as a disaster and shouldn’t diminish what he was able to accomplish early on in his career. The veteran finished his career with 200 wins and three World Series titles. He also was a five-time All-Star, was named 2016 NLCS MVP, led the NL in wins in 2018, and threw a no-hitter.
A solid regular season pitcher, he always made sure he made his presence felt when pitching on the biggest stage. In 22 postseason starts, Lester is 9-7, with a 2.51 ERA, and 133 strikeouts.
Once Lester reached the World Series, he always found a way to always take his game to another level. In six World Series appearances with the Red Sox and Cubs, he is 4-1, with a 1.77 ERA, and 34 strikeouts.
Lester’s playoff heroics and strong resume make him an interesting candidate for the Hall of Fame. In 2,740 career innings, he is 200-117, with a 3.66 ERA, 2,488 strikeouts, and 3.78 FIP.