Jon Lester earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors, while Javier Baez took home the NL Player of the Week award for the Chicago Cubs’ recent hot streak.
A mere half game separates the Chicago Cubs from first place in the National League Central. Over the last week, the offense has been on a torrid pace, due largely in part to the work of Javier Baez. And, for almost the entire season, Jon Lester continued to anchor a shaky starting rotation.
Lester has rebounded in a big way from a disappointing 2017. Entering Monday’s off-day, the left-hander is tied for the National League lead with 11 wins. He also ranks fourth in earned run average (2.25) – giving the rotation a big boost. All year long, he’s been the stopper when the Cubs need a win in the worst way.
This rang particularly true in the month of June. He went undefeated, allowing a total of just 27 hits and walks over 32 innings. Along the same trend, according to MLB.com, opponents failed to score in three of his last five starts.
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We looked at Lester’s Hall of Fame credentials last week. And, while it’s too soon to call him a lock for Cooperstown, if he keeps plugging away at this rate, he makes a very interesting candidate.
Baez making baseball fun again
Behind Lester, Baez continues to rake. The Chicago infielder is tied for the league lead with 61 runs batted in and an impressive .290/.326/.567 line heading into July. And, as the Cubs offense heated up last week – especially over the weekend at Wrigley, Baez led the way.
So, why Baez? When you hit nearly .500 (.483, to be exact) with 11 RBI, good things happen. His biggest performance? A two-homer, five-RBI outburst last Tuesday against the Dodgers. The man on the mound that day? You guessed it. Jon Lester.
These two form a lethal one-two punch on a daily basis. With Kris Bryant on the disabled list, Baez is seeing more time at the hot corner. But, even when KB returns, Baez is no longer a platoon guy. He’s going to be in there, right in the middle of an offense that’s ready to make its run to the top of the National League.