When he takes the mound on Sunday (8 ET on ESPN), Jon Lester will be pitching
to retake history. But as Lester knows from experience, this form of history could be temporary.
With a win against the Yankees, Lester will improve to 66-26 in his career. That would give him a .7173 career win percentage, passing Spud Chandler
(.7171) for the highest in baseball’s modern era among pitchers with 50 decisions.
In fact, Lester has already spent considerable time in the top spot. He first overtook Chandler in September 2009, and has spent a good deal of time ahead of him since. However, it’s been nothing but second place for Lester since losing his final start of 2010.
Though interesting to monitor, it’s clearly premature to be discussing a career record for a pitcher with many seasons ahead. If you look at the
highest career win percentages for pitchers in their first six seasons, Lester comes in seventh.
Among those ahead of him are Dwight Gooden and Ron Guidry. For different reason, both found wins tougher to come by in their thirties.
Even if his historic win percentage doesn’t last, Lester does have a chance at more concrete history Sunday.
Lester has held the Yankees scoreless in each of his last two stars against them, while lasting at least six innings each time. ESPNNewYork.com’s Mark
Simon dug up a historic gem that could come into play if Lester blanks them again.
Since 1920, only two pitches have had three straight starts of six or more innings against the Yankees without allowing a run. Schoolboy Rowe pitched
three straight shutouts against New York in 1934 and 1935. More recently, Britt Burns had four straight starts against Yankees without allowing a run
from 1981 to 1982.