Chicago Cubs: What is Jon Lester’s legacy?
By Erik Mauro
In December of 2015, the Chicago Cubs made an organizational-changing acquisition, when they inked starting pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year deal, worth $155 million.
Since this signing, the Chicago Cubs have gone to heights never seen by anybody on earth, and heights that every organization aims to reach. In his three seasons with the Cubs, Jon Lester has made 96 starts, posting a 3.33 ERA, pitching 588 1/3 innings, striking out 584 hitters, and posting a 3.45 FIP, and that’s just the regular season.
In the postseason, Lester has made nine starts, his best being game one against the Giants in the NLDS and a do-or-die game five of the World Series against the Indians. The Cubs won the World Series in seven games, just in case anybody forgot.
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Jon Lester could retire now, not pitch the last three or four years of his contract, and still be considered a legend in Cubs lore. Lester changed the culture instantly, as many people thought, even at the time of his signing, that the Cubs were still a year away.
They promptly won 97 games in 2015 and made their first of three straight National League Championship Series, a streak that’s still active. Lester has been the guy that has aided this turnaround. Well, he, and the loaded core of young hitters on offense certainly helps, too.
Projecting Lester in 2018
This is a weird case. Lester had an outstanding 2nd half of 2015, a dominant 2016 (like the entire rest of the team) before regressing a bit in 2017. The question that many fans may have is whether or not his 2017 season was a case of natural regression, or whether it was his age getting to him a little? Lester will be 34 in 2018, so you could naturally assume regression will come. But, over the course of his career, Jon has been a bulldog, and will always take the ball when asked.
His velocity during last year was fine, and the breaking ball was there. He just fell into the trap with the rest of the Cubs that involved a slight World Series hangover for the first half of the season. A betting man would probably bet on Lester to return to his normal self in 2018. But, this is baseball, and strange things happen every day.