Jon Lester simply ran out of gas.
Lester revealed to ESPN he’s retiring after 16 seasons in Major League Baseball, nine of which he spent with the Boston Red Sox before stops with the Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals.
The decision isn’t shocking, seeing as Lester turned 38 last week after logging 2,740 regular-season innings and 154 more in the postseason, but it still marks the end of an era. Lester, a five-time All-Star, walks away as one of the best left-handed pitchers of his generation.
“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, explaining his decision to retire. “It’s getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance.
“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’s résumé likely will garner Hall of Fame consideration. Not only did he win 200 games and finish among the top four in Cy Young voting on three separate occasions. He also was extremely durable, totaling at least 170 innings in 12 seasons, and is regarded as one of the best playoff performers ever.
The southpaw will be most remembered for his career-opening stint with Boston, where he won two World Series titles, and his six-year run in Chicago, where he led the Cubs to their first championship in 108 years.
Lester went 7-6 with a 4.71 ERA in 28 starts (141 1/3 innings) last season, which he split between the Nationals and Cardinals.