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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

From the word ‘go’, 2017 was a mixed bag

Last spring, Jon Lester struggled in a big way.

He made just three spring starts, spanning 11 innings in which opponents hung a dozen hits on the veteran. Lester struck out 10 and walked just one – but he struggled to keep guys from touching home plate (5.73 ERA).

As the calendar turned to April, the lefty made five starts and went winless – despite a respectable 3.68 ERA. More troubling, perhaps, was his 2.89 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.432 WHIP in his 29 1/3 innings of work.

On the whole, Lester managed a sub-4.00 ERA in just two of the six months of the regular season. Down the stretch, he faded badly, especially in August, where his WHIP climbed north of 1.700 – thanks mostly to a clunker in his final start of the month.

Lester failed to pitch out of the second inning, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits against Cincinnati. We all know the big-picture assessment of the season – but he, again, delivered in October.

Between the Division Series against Washington and League Championship Series against Los Angeles, the former Red Sox ace put up earned run averages of 1.86 and 1.93, respectively. Washington was baffled by the southpaw – who made one start and pitched out of the bullpen in the five-game series.