Red Sox taking needless risk with Lester

There are 119 days remaining in the Major League Baseball season, and depending on whether the Boston Red Sox make the playoffs, perhaps 119 days until Jon Lester throws his last pitch of the year.

But the Red Sox may have much less time than that to negotiate a new long-term deal with Lester, who is the unquestioned anchor of the staff and is off to the best start of his career, with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Lester gave the Red Sox their seventh straight win Sunday with a 12-strikeout gem against the Rays, matching his season high for fastball velocity, at 92.6 mph with the pitch (according to ESPN Stats & Information). Rays hitters were 1-for-13 with six strikeouts and a walk against that pitch.

He is averaging almost seven innings per start, and has 22 walks and 95 strikeouts in 80 innings.