Last season in his rookie year with Boston, 23-year old, lefty Jon Lester went 7- 2 in 15 starts. He had an ERA of 4.76 and had notched 60 SO in 81.1 innings. He also had a phantom pain in his back and after undergoing various tests was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphomaâ€”non-Hodgkins lymphoma. That is cancer.
Last year when that happened, I noted that Lester, who had a type of highly curable cancer (80%), had the toughest fight of his life ahead. A young person, any young person, doesnâ€™t deserve that thpe of bad luck.
Well, tonight, the lefty gets his first MLB start since being diagnosed almost a year ago. Last December he was given a clean bill of health by his physicians and now must undergo periodic checkups to ensure that heâ€™s cancer free.
His journey back included a cautious progression of starts in Grapefruit League games, numerous minor league starts and side sessions. He did not get called up when Curt Shilling went on the DL. Lester, reports are, has been anxious to get back, but the Red Sox, with the team playing well and the pitching looking deep for the first-half of the season, were not interested in rushing him back.
Tonight the Sox are in Cleveland to face the Indians. Lester will replace Julian Tavarez, who as late has been struggling. Tavarez, after starting the season 5- 4 in 13 starts has gone 0- 4 in his last five. He has a 5.27 ERA over 97.1 IP. In those last five, he has been unable to go six innings and has a 7.71 ERA. Tavarez will be in the bullpen tonight.
Lester looks ready and the Red Sox need his arm. He has not has a major league start since last August 23 when he beat the Los Angeles Angels.
As he mad his was through his minor league stints, Lester was 4- 5 with a 3.61 ERA in Class A Greenville of the South Atlantic League and 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA for Triple A Pawtucket of the International League.
Lesterâ€™s mom and dad are expected to be at the game tonight, which should be an emotional one for the young pitcher.