Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester doing what he always does – leading the way
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs signed left-hander Jon Lester to his six-year deal in hopes of landing a true ace. They got just that – and 2017, while it’s seen its ups-and-downs, is no exception.
Although his numbers aren’t where we’ve come to expect, Jon Lester continues to prove his worth for the Chicago Cubs. By the time his six-year, $155 deal draws to a close after the 2021 option, we’ll all look back fondly at the years he spent in the Friendly Confines.
Lester, still only 33 years of age, came out of the All-Star Break on a mission. After his last start of the first-half ended before the first inning drew to a close, you knew Lester wasn’t going to go quietly into the break.
Compared to his first-half numbers, he is up across-the-board. He dropped his earned run average from 4.25 ERA prior to the Midsummer Classic to 3.26 in his six starts since. Opponents hit .262 against him early in the year, but have managed a measly .200 mark since the break.
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The left-hander takes the ball in Thursday’s matinee finale against Cincinnati looking for his ninth win of the year. In all but three of his 25 starts, he pitched at least five innings. At times, he struggled with pitch count, but it’s something he continues to focus on.
And that’s what makes him so valuable. He’s never satisfied.
More importantly, he takes nothing for granted.
Doing it all
In recent weeks, Jon Lester made all kinds of history. In one fell swoop, the southpaw notched his 2,000th career strikeout and hit his first career home run. And he did it all in one single night.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer brought Jon Lester to the Windy City so he could bring a title to the North Side. And, just two years into his contract, he did just that. In 2015, Lester helped lead the Cubs to the National League Championship Series. Last year, of course, on the biggest stage, he delivered. And the victory parade capped off the perfect end to story.
At least for most players.
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Chicago didn’t sign ‘most’ players, though. They signed a true champion, the epitome of class and a leader – both on and off the field. In Jon Lester, they found someone to preserve the past, deliver in the present and loom large down the road.