Chicago Cubs: Lester’s rough start shouldn’t be concerning


A rough first outing for the Chicago Cubs’ Jon Lester could be worrisome, but it isn’t. The veteran righted the ship last year after missing most of Spring Training due to fatigue.

The Chicago Cubs pitching staff looks to be one of the strengths of a team looking to snag the N.L. Central crown away from the St. Louis Cardinals. With the defending NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta winner coming off a strong first outing, Jon Lester was next up–but it wasn’t quite as smooth as Arrieta’s day.

The struggles can’t be pinned completely on Lester as the defense didn’t provide much help. Lester allowed six runs over two innings but only three of those were earned. Two run-scoring doubles in the first followed a couple of infield singles, while the three-run second for the Seattle Mariners were all unearned thanks to three Cubs’ errors.

There are only a handful of fans out there that will go “doomsday” on this initial rough outing for Lester and continue to call him a bust. But after missing a good portion of the spring last year with arm fatigue, seeing him out there and getting work is good to see. Just like everyone else–and maybe more as a 32-year-old veteran and not a young rookie–he needs the work to get back into shape heading into this season.

When the Cubs signed Lester last season, he was signed with the perception he was the team’s ace. Arrieta stepped up and became that guy and Lester as able to settle in and not have the weight of the world on his shoulders to succeed. Lester isn’t a “lights out pitcher”. The Cubs front office knew that. They signed him for his winning pedigree, his leadership–and don’t misread that as he’s not a good pitcher. A little inconsistent last season, I agree. But there were times when Lester was ALMOST as good as Arrieta. Almost I said.

With Lester likely to settle in between Arrieta and John Lackey the trio should be able to maintain a solid body of work at the top of the rotation. It also doesn’t hurt that Lackey and Lester played together in Boston. Some may not think much about that, but it matters to the guys on the field.

More cubs: Fowler and Heyward are good for each other on defense

Lester should improve as the spring continues, and more than his pitching we are all eager to see if his ability to hold runners on will improve. David Ross retires after this season so that safety blanket of Lester’s will be no more.