Chicago Cubs: Who is the ace of this pitching staff?
It’s Lester’s for now
Lester had an up-and-down season in 2017, but I don’t see it as the new norm. After many of the Cubs players had stupendous seasons in 2016, there was going to be a regression to the mean. Only in a lot of these cases, they went past that. I think Lester will come back closer to his career numbers. Age isn’t necessarily on his side. But left-handers tend to last longer, and I think Lester will be no different from that.
Lester has a certain “gamer” mentality about him. Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’ll find a way to gut it out and do what he can. This season, that was a 13-8 record while the Cubs went 19-13 in his starts. The Cubs have made some changes to the bullpen that might help to rectify some of the games that were lost late. We’ll just have to see about that.
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But for now, I can’t take this away from Lester until he gives it up. And I don’t think there would be another pitcher happier to see Hendricks or Quintana take that role from him. But that’s why I’d give Lester the ball on Opening Day. He’s earned it.