Jon Lester strikes out a career-high 15 batters in win over Athletics

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Jon Lester struck out a career-high 15 batters and allowed just one hit over eight scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-3 victory over the Athletics in Fenway Park in Boston.

It was a dominant performance from Lester, who walked two batters on the day and gave up his lone hit on a single by Craig Gentry in the third inning. The southpaw struck out the final three batters he faced in the eighth inning and was pulled after throwing 119 pitches. The A’s made things interesting after Chris Capuano took over in the top of the ninth inning, but Koji Uehara managed to snuff out the rally to secure the victory, albeit in shaky fashion.

Lester’s previous career-high for strikeouts was 13, which he did on July 24, 2010 against the Mariners. The 30-year-old is the first Red Sox pitcher to strike out 15 batters in a game since Pedro Martinez did it in 2000.

Lester, an impending free agent, now holds a 2.59 ERA and 58/10 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings over seven starts this season. Perhaps the Red Sox should have been a bit more generous during extension talks in the spring?

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.