The former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs star can say with confidence that he is loved by both franchises.
He also played for the Oakland Athletics, the Washington Nationals, and the St. Louis Cardinals, but fans won’t forget his big wins and postseason moments with Boston and Chicago.
Lester, 38, said to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that he just didn’t want to deal with the physical struggles of being a professional athlete anymore, which is perfectly understandable.
“It’s kind of run its course. It’s getting harder for me physically … 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 puts an end to a brilliant career that saw him go to five All-Star Games, win three World Series, and finish with a 3.66 ERA, 200 wins, and 2,488 strikeouts.
His October legend is something to behold, as he threw 154 innings of a 2.51 ERA in the playoffs, the lowest of any hurler with that many frames.
A Red Sox Legend
Lester made his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2006, and by 2007, he was already pitching in the World Series.
There, he had one start, hurling 5.2 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies to help Boston win it all.
It was his first World Series title, but he would win another one in 2013.
That year, he completely stymied the Cardinals in the Fall Classic, winning his two starts and allowing just one earned run in 15.1 frames, good for a 0.59 ERA.
Lester helped win a pair in Boston, was especially great in the 2013 World Series, and went to the Cubs and played a leading role in winning a title for one of the most tortured fanbases in baseball history. 2.51 postseason ERA, in 154 innings of work. Legend. https://t.co/FqNIAVoxYZ
— Cole Hurlbert (@TheColeHurlbert) January 12, 2022
He handed one walk and struck out 15.
With the Red Sox, Lester had two top-five Cy Young finishes and three All-Star Games.
He pitched six full seasons with Boston, and his ERA was above 4.00 just one time.
Helping Break The Curse
After half a season with the A’s, he signed a huge free agent deal with the Cubs for the 2015 season.
His debut season was good, as he posted a 3.34 ERA in 205 frames with Chicago that year.
A year later, however, Lester would captivate another franchise.
He was an All-Star and finished second in the 2016 Cy Young voting, propelling the team to the World Series.
He was 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA during that regular season, and was a star in October, too.
He pitched eight shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series, then was named the MVP of the Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (1.38 ERA in 13 innings).
He covered 14.2 good innings in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, notching a 3.68 ERA.
The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, in large part thanks to Lester.
They love him in Chicago.
I remember #Lester signing with the Cubs like it was yesterday.
Was at the 2014 Winter Meetings in San Diego as a job seeker, huge media scrum around Joe Maddon in the hotel that night after the news broke.
Thanks for believing in Chicago and changing the culture at Wrigley. 👊
— CTrey Reiter (@CheyneReiter) January 12, 2022
He had a couple of solid seasons after that, and then started to decline.
Both the Red Sox and Cubs, however, will be forever grateful for Lester’s contributions to three World Series titles.
He is a true hero for two MLB franchises, and deservedly so.