Don’t look now, but Jon Lester is doing exactly what he does just about every year. The left-handed ace hasn’t had the start to his Chicago Cubs career the way that he hoped but looking at past performances, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to be overly concerned. Before we as fans start to get worried, lets instead focus on the things that Lester brings to our team.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts opening night. I was as full of optimism and hope as the next fan only to have it ripped out of me by the one team that I love to hate. Lester’s appearance that night was supposed to mark the beginning of a new era. By the end of the night, all I witnessed was the same feelings of possible buyers remorse.
That same empty feeling a certain Chicago quarterback has given us.
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A friend of mine, who we will call, let’s say, White Sox fan, wanted me to address Lester’s inability to throw to first. While being an inconvenience, Lester’s job is to get hitter’s out. Over time, I’m sure he will show us why the Red Sox, Athletics, and now the Cubs were okay with signing a guy who can’t do what seems to be fundamental.
Over the life of his career, Lester has had moments of inconsistency that would mirror what he’s done so far this year. Many of his mistakes in the past were masked by one stat in particular. Jon Lester has been given very good run support each year in the big leagues.
Average run support per year according to Baseball-Reference.com:
- 6.11/runs per game in 2006
- 6.09/runs per game in 2007
- 5.56/runs per game in 2008
- 5.03/runs per game in 2009
- 5.07/runs per game in 2010
- 5.32/runs per game in 2011
- 4.02/runs per game in 2012
- 5.03/runs per game in 2013
- 4.09/runs per game in 2014
Now, I know that there are plenty of pitchers out there that get similar run support and that these numbers aren’t unusual. Lester has proven that while his run support shrunk, his performances improved. The real asset that he will bring to this team will come in August and September if the Cubs are playing meaningful baseball.
He is a perennial Cy Young candidate, a four-time all-star, and most importantly, a two-time World Series champion. The practical experience and veteran leadership he will provide will make up for the rough outings. As the season rolls on, Lester will put to rest the panic and concerns that we share now.
Let’s not forget, that Lester is still at the end of his spring training due to the Dead arm issue. His lack of in-game prep in March is showing now. So, maybe Lester has everyone right where he wants them. Don’t be fooled, he’s just warming up.