Jon Lester threw a no-hitter Monday night.
The outing might have not gotten nearly the fanfare that the one he threw for the Red Sox in 2008 did since this was only five innings, but the 76-pitch outing did send a powerful early-season statement. This version of Lester can still get guys out.
Now in his age 36 season, Lester has made it very clear he understands the importance of these next few months. It was a mindset he relayed when talking to WEEI.com in early May.
"For me, I don't know what is going to happen next year,” he said at the time, referencing a team 2020 team option for $25 million. “I know I have the team option, the player option, that sort of thing. We'll figure that out one way or the other. I will either be here or be a free agent. Obviously everything is open. I'm open-minded to anything. Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started. But, I've got a little time before I really have to sit down and weigh that decision, even if it's something where they want me back. Hopefully, I'm still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people. We'll see.
“It's weird. Not only for the individuals that are going into free agency or arbitration or what-not. People are getting a year older and not putting up numbers. With how our game is now with everybody so focused on your age and all that, this really hurts people. On a personal level, this hurts me. I'm not getting any younger and coming off a year like I had last year, this isn't going to help me."
His willingness to open the door for a return to Boston should have immediately put Lester in Red Sox' fans' crosshairs.
If the lefty does show his game has evolved, as Monday night against the Reds might suggest, it would seemingly be a good fit for a Red Sox team with at least a couple of spots slated to be open in their starting rotation. He is a pitcher who relies more on his cutter than ever, with a high-80's/low-90's fastball serving as his secondary pitch.
There aren't a lot of swings and misses, as the one strikeout against Cincy suggests, but Lester's command of the strike zone goes a long way. All things considered, he is a pitcher who would seem to be a good fit in a rotation that will likely already include Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and eventually Chris Sale.