Chicago Cubs: Who is the ace of this pitching staff?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Jon Lester – LHP

We recently looked at what Jon Lester’s legacy would be when he leaves the Cubs. The overall conclusion was positive, as many don’t think the Cubs are where they’re at today without him. But what he’s done and what he can do are two different things. So does Lester still command that No. 1 presence? Or have one of the others snuck up on him to take that honor away?

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Lester failed to reach 200 innings for the first time since joining the Cubs. Some of that can be attributed to the short outings he had in several instances. On five separate occasions, he failed to go five innings.Another he didn’t get out of the second inning, another he couldn’t make it out of the first.

His ERA+ was 100, exactly league average. His ERA was over four for the first time since 2012. Lester did manage to win 13 games, but his WHIP was 1.323, his highest since–you guessed it–2012. So was 2017 a sign of decline for Lester or was it an aberration?

This is a hard thing to pinpoint, as his numbers had trended upward until last season. Lester will be 34 years old by the time the season starts next years, so age is a concern. But his playoff record speaks for itself, and he seems only to get stronger as the years go by. It’s hard to imagine Lester not pitching on Opening Day. But when you look at the two guys chasing him, it’s not as bad as you think.