Jon Lester seems to like the second half better as well
There is no doubt the Cubs need Jon Lester to start pitching like he did last season. Lester’s numbers suggest that his best baseball has yet to be played.
Lester signed a huge six-year, $155 million deal to join the Cubs in 2015. Despite his big contract, Lester struggled with his new team. In 18 first half starts, Lester went 4-8 with a 3.59 ERA in 110 1/3 innings pitched. To turn that rough start around, Lester went 7-4 after the All-Star break and posted a 3.04 ERA. In addition to his lower ERA, Lester improved his WHIP, strikeouts per nine innings and his strikeout-to-walk ratio in the second half of 2015.
As Lester settled into his new digs, his numbers improved. Proof of this can be seen in Lester’s 2016 first half numbers. In 18 starts, the lefty went 9-4 with a 3.01 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings pitched. While those may be considered ace-like numbers, Lester took it to a different level post-All-Star break. Lester won 10 of his 14 starts while compiling a 1.76 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched.
Lester also improved upon his opponent batting average in the second half of last year. He lowered it from a .226 mark in the first half, to a .192 clip in the second half.
If the Cubs are to make the postseason in 2017, they will need Lester to have an outstanding second half. There is definitely room for improvement, as Lester’s ERA sits just south of four, and his WHIP is 1.27.