The Chicago Cubs went out and signed a veteran southpaw to add to their starting rotation. Putting together a scenario where he was starting Game 7 of the World Series, they landed their man.
When Jon Lester and the Oakland Athletics were eliminated by the Kansas City Royals, we all knew he would join the Chicago Cubs. Shortly after testing the market, Lester, and the Cubs agreed to a six-year, $155 million deal.
This added a solid veteran southpaw with World Series experience to their starting rotation that needed an extra spark. Honestly, adding Lester to the starting five helped spark Jake Arrieta‘s lights-out 2015 Cy Young campaign.
What I mean by that is Lester was dubbed the ace. However, Arrieta quickly claimed that title by cruising through the regular season with impressive numbers. We’ll save that story for another time.
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Right now, we’re going to look back at Lester’s second year with the Cubs. Aside from his inability to make a pick-off move, Jon improved on the mound and even the batters box. Shockingly.
His first year with the Cubs did not go according to plan and even had fans questioning the decision to even sign him.
First, Jon racked up six hits this season, three of which were doubles and even drove in six runners in the process. Rather impressive for someone who went hitless for a while in 2015.
Also, his sacrifice bunt that scored Jason Heyward from third in that extra-innings contest over the Seattle Mariners was his biggest hit of the year.
So, the header above this paragraph reads second best only because of Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks, who finished with the lowest ERA in the National League, was ahead of Lester. The 32-year-old ended the year second in that category with an impressive 2.44 mark.
His 19 wins on the year were more than Kyle’s win totals, second-best in the National League and a career best. When it was time for the postseason, Lester continued to do work on the mound despite a hiccup in Game 1 of the World Series.
In six postseason appearances, Lester held the Giants, Dodgers, and Indians to a combined eight earned runs on 27 hits. His eight-inning scoreless outing in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Giants was his best outing of October.
Since then, he limited the Dodgers to two earned runs in as many appearances, striking out nine and walking only two in the process. His performance in the LCS earned him Co-LCS MVP honors alongside Javier Baez.
Enter Game 7 of the World Series. Skipper Joe Maddon opted to remove Hendricks for Lester which resulted in David Ross stepping in behind the dish. An awful start later turned into a beautiful moment for Lester as he struck out four in three innings of relief.