Jon Lester, who on Thursday is scheduled to make his second straight Opening Day start for the Red Sox, talked to WEEI.com about his frustration regarding how he is perceived among the elite pitchers in the game.
Lester is one of three pitchers who has won 15 or more games in each of the past four seasons, joining CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay. Yet in some ways, the pitcher feels that such consistent performances have been viewed as unsatisfactory.
“I think people expect me every year to go out and win 20 games, and if I don’t do that, it’s a bad season. I don’t think that I get a lot of the credit of the seasons that I have put together,” Lester said. “It’s obviously a nice expectation to have, but at the same time, when people talk about the elite pitchers in the game, they throw me in as, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s one, too.’
“It’s frustrating. I don’t know why that is. It is nice to be recognized as that at sometimes, just to reassure your work and for your confidence. Yeah, the expectation of winning 20 games is great. I don’t want any less. I want to win as many games as I can every year. Hell, I want to win 33 when you get down to it. That’s a compliment, but to be mentioned every once in a while with those [elite] guys would be nice.”
Yet as pleased as Lester is with his career performance and what he has achieved, he also acknowledges that he would like to exceed the bar that he’s already set. While he is admittedly frustrated by those who want more of him than what he’s already done over the past four seasons, Lester also hopes and believes that he can do more.
The 28-year-old Lester is coming off a season in which he went 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, pitching 191 2/3 innings.
“I would hope that my best is still ahead of me. If I say my best is in the past, then I’m kind of screwed. I might as well just retire,” he said with a laugh. “I hope that the best is in front of me.”
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