Chicago Cubs P Jon Lester leaves start early with injury

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs Jon Lester exited his start against the Cincinnati Reds Thursday after experiencing left lat tightness.

Jon Lester gave up nine runs Thursday, but the Chicago Cubs may now have a greater issue at hand.

Thursday’s game was interesting on many fronts, but Lester’s case is puzzling. He threw just six pitches in the first inning but could not get through the second. He exited the game in the second inning after experiencing left lat tightness.

Lester did not necessarily get knocked around, but there is no way to sugarcoat nine runs crossing the plate. Five of the seven hits that he surrendered were singles, several of which were softly-hit. He ultimately is responsible for allowing nine runs in just 1 2/3 innings.

The bigger issue at hand, though, is the possibility of losing Lester for an extended period. Although his 4.37 ERA this season was far from his 2.44 ERA last season, he still is the ace of the Cubs starting rotation.

Severity of injury could be devastating blow

New York Mets ace pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been out since late April with a lat injury on his throwing side. There is no telling just yet how severe Lester’s injury is, of course. However, the fact that it could be as serious as Syndergaard’s is bothersome.

The Cubs could withstand any short-term absence of Lester; Mike Montgomery is capable of joining the rotation, as he has started eight games this season. Losing Montgomery’s presence in the bullpen would hurt, but the Cubs do have two others lefties available in Brian Duensing and Justin Wilson.

At the same time, losing Lester for an extended period/for the rest of the season would be a tough blow for the Cubs. His ERA since the All Star break was 3.26 before Thursday, far from his 4.25 pre-break ERA. Simply put, he has pitched like the ace he was brought to Chicago to be.

Next: Lester again leading Cubs on and off field

Ultimately, Lester may have just had a bad day on the mound due to tightness and nothing more. If he is out for the foreseeable future, though, the Cubs starting rotation will certainly be impacted. Here is to hoping for a swift return for the big left-hander.