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Jon Lester (15-9, 3.47 ERA, 191.2 IP, 182K, 75 BB): By all counts, Jon Lester had a solid 2011 season. Nevertheless, the expectations for Lester are still higher. It seems like people have been talking for years about Lester improving from simply an All-Star pitcher to a perennial Cy Young contender. Will 2012 be the year he finally makes the jump?
Lester’s 2011 campaign included winning at least 15 games and keeping an ERA under 4.00 for the fourth year in a row. He also made his second career All-Star game (and second in as many seasons). Lester did break some trends, however, in 2011. He failed to reach the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2008 and his WHIP of 1.257 was the highest it has been since 2008. A shaky Red Sox rotation really needs those 200 innings from Lester this year to stay in the playoff race.
Professionalism seems to be a concern heading into 2012 for Lester. To the surprise of many, the 28-year-old pitcher was linked to the clubhouse beer and chicken shenanigans. If the Red Sox and Lester hope to end that storyline once and for all, they need to have a strong 2012 campaign. As Lester has demonstrated, his average season is more than good enough to get the job done.
But can you imagine what an above average season could do for the Sox?
2012 Red Sox Starting Rotation Previews: