Jon Lester retires after storied career
Jon Lester will hang up his spikes after one of the most legendary careers of the last couple generations. He made the announcement to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers this week.
Raising a glass to Jon Lester in celebration of a legendary career.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 12, 2022
200 wins, 3 rings, a 2.51 postseason ERA and countless lives touched by your generosity.
We are so fortunate to have you in the Cubs family. Enjoy retirement! pic.twitter.com/WvxTkn8Afx
2021 represented the 16th MLB season for the 38-year-old southpaw, racking up exactly 200 wins over 451 starts and 1 relief appearance. Lester will retire with a 3.66 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 2,488 strikeouts in 2,740 innings.
But his story goes far beyond regular season success.
Lester will always be remembered for his heroic postseason performances, helping his teams win the World Series three times (2007 Red Sox, 2013 Red Sox and of course the 2016 Cubs).
He pitched essentially another season’s worth of action in the playoffs — 154 innings over 26 outings (22 starts). In October, Lester was 9-7 with a sparkling 2.51 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
He was dominant for the Cubs in that magical fall of 2016, going 3-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 5 starts and 1 epic relief appearance in Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland.
The 5-time All-Star began his career with the Red Sox but will always be revered by Cubs fans after signing a free agent contract to come to Chicago before the 2015 season. Along with David Ross and Joe Maddon, Lester played a major role in instilling a winning culture on the North Side and the Cubs made the NLCS in each of his first three seasons in town.
Lester wrapped up his Cubs career after the 2020 season, signing a free agent deal with the Washington Nationals. He was then traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in July and helped his team to the playoffs one more time (though he didn’t pitch, as the Cardinals lost the Wild Card game to the Dodgers).
He returned to face his former team at Wrigley Field a couple of times in 2021, including an emotional visit with Washington in May.
As Lester pursued his 200th victory, a bunch of Cubs coaches and players were following along and watched the game as he reached the milestone in September.
In his last start as a Cub at Wrigley Field in September 2020, Lester admitted his emotions got to him and was disappointed no fans were in the stands during the pandemic season.
“I think that’s probably the most frustrating part for me,” Lester said at the time. “Going back to ’14, I didn’t really get to walk off the field like I wanted to at Fenway. Obviously tonight didn’t go quite the way I wanted to, having an empty stadium. Not really how I envisioned possibly my last start here.
“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘woe is me.’ But I didn’t think six years would go this fast.”
Lester finished his Cubs career with a .636 winning percentage (77-44) and 3.64 ERA over his six seasons.
He will almost assuredly wind up in the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.