Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester off to his best start in years this spring

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

A sometimes slow starter, Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester is firing on all cylinders as he looks to rebound from a career-worst 2017 performance.

After a strong Opening Day tune-up outing Monday, Chicago Cubs veteran Jon Lester is off to his best start in a long, long time. The southpaw whiffed six Reds hitters in 6 2/3 innings of work, lowering his spring ERA to 2.81.

Last season was forgettable, to say the least. After finishing as the National League Cy Young runner-up in 2016, the lefty put together one of the worst seasons of his big-league career. He had a handful of outings in which he got absolutely shelled – which inflated his numbers to a degree. But Lester himself admits he wasn’t at his best in 2017.

But with a rested, reenergized defense behind him, he hopes to get back on track – and back to the World Series – this season.

"“I love our defense,” Lester told after his start. “It’s just a matter of us not allowing the ball to go over the fence.”"

In years’ past, Lester has, at times, gotten off to a very slow start. As temperatures heated up, so did the two-time 19-game winner. By the time the postseason rolls around, you know exactly what you’re getting from him. A big-game pitcher with no fear.

What would a strong start to the season mean for Lester? Before we can answer that, let’s look back at some of his recent spring and early-season numbers.