The Oakland Athletics will send Jon Lester to the mound when they face the Kansas City Royals in a one-game AL wildcard playoff game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night.
Here’s what you need to know about Lester.
1. He Was Acquired at the Trade Deadline
Oakland acquired Lester from Boston at this year’s trade deadline. When the A’s plotted their rotation for the final two weeks of regular-season play that Jon Lester lined up for a potential start in a one-game playoff, and is one of the main reasons Oakland may have an edge Tuesday.
“We had Jon targeted for this,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin told reporters. “That’s why you have a guy like that. When he takes the mound, the team’s going to feel awfully good about their chances.”
2. He’s 3-0 Against the Royals This Season
Lester has dominated Kansas City this season, posting a 3-0 record against the Royals in 2014 thus far.
Two of those outings were with the Red Sox, while the other one was with the A’s.
Yet Lester’s outing was the only game the A’s won in a four-game set at Kauffman Stadium from Aug. 11-14. Kansas City also took a three-game series in Oakland in early August, showcasing its relentless running game that could potentially haunt an A’s catching staff that has collectively struggled to slow down the game’s speedsters.
In his career, he’s 9-3 with a 1.84 in his 13 career starts against the Royals, including a no-hitter against the Royals in 2008.
3. He Was Diagnosed With Lymphoma.
In 2006, Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.
Enlarged lymph nodes were identified when Lester was tested to determine the cause of back pain that sent him to the disabled list at the time. The Red Sox then announced that Lester had a treatable form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that forms in the body’s lymph system.
Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is one of a group of cancers known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Dr. Robert Soiffer, chief of the division of hematologic malignancies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, told ESPN.
“It is a disease that can strike at any age,” said Soiffer, who is not involved in Lester’s treatment. “It’s responsive to chemotherapy and very treatable.”
Prognosis depends on the stage at which the disease is caught, Soiffer said. Age can also play a limited role in determining a patient’s outcome, he said.
“In general, younger patients … have a better prognosis than older ones,” Soiffer said.
But Lester came right back from cancer. To honor Lester’s comeback from lymphoma, the Boston Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted him the 2007 Tony Conigliaro Award. Him and his wife Farrah established NVRQT, short for “Never Quit” in 2011 to support kids in their battle against cancer and inspire researchers working endlessly towards a cure.
4. He Started And Won the Final Game of the 2007 World Series
Lester, who was playing for the Boston Red Sox at the time, started and won the final game of the 2007 World Series for Boston against the Colorado Rockies.
In that game, Lester pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings in a 4-3 Boston victory over Colorado in the finale, causing teammate Curt Schilling to praise him.
“Jon Lester just pitched the clutchiest game I’ve ever seen pitched in my life,” Schilling said.
5. He Met His Wife While Making Rehab Stint
Lester met his wife, Farrah in Greenville, SC when he was making minor league rehab starts in the spring following treatment for his cancer. The couple then married in January 2009, and have two sons.
The couple was often seen around the city of Boston, and they enjoy deer hunting. Lester helped his wife shoot her first deer in late 2007.