Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks primed to be Cubs’ ace in 2018

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 20: Pitcher Jon Lester
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 20: Pitcher Jon Lester /

Jon Lester struggled in 2017

I don’t think there’s any hiding it, Jon Lester was not good this year. I would not say he was bad because according to his ERA+ (100), he was an average pitcher in 2017. Just average, however, is not what we are used to from Lester.

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Last season, Lester enjoyed one of the best campaigns of his career. In 32 starts, the left-handed amassed a 19-5 record and a 2.44 ERA. Along with that, Lester recorded an ERA+ of 171 and finished second in the National League Cy Young voting.

Lester’s 2017 season was another story. Like last year, Lester made 32 starts. Unlike last year, Lester won just 13 of them. In addition to that, Lester’s ERA shot up to 4.33.

That was due, in part, to his hits allowed per nine innings rising from 6.8 in 2016 to 8.9 in 2017. Lester’s 180 2/3 innings pitched in 2017 signaled the first time the lefty has not reached at least 200 innings pitched in a season since 2011.

Diving deeper into Lester’s numbers, one can see some small declines over the last few years. For instance, Lester recorded a walk percentage of 5.4 in 2014. Since then, it has risen every year, culminating in a 7.9 mark this season. Along with that, Lester’s home runs allowed per nine innings has risen every year since 2014, reaching 1.30 this season.

Despite what may look like a bleak picture, Lester still has a lot left in the tank. At 33 years old, a rough season is always worrisome, but Lester should be able to get back on his horse in 2018, just not as the Cubs’ ace.