Chicago Cubs: Jon Lester looking more like himself just in time for the postseason

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to say that Jon Lester had his struggles since the All-Star Break this season. Despite said battles, he has put it together in his last four starts and looks more like the Chicago Cubs ace we are accustomed to seeing.

Jon Lester has had quite the roller coaster season for the Chicago Cubs. In the first half, the southpaw looked like the team’s ace, pitching his way to his fifth All-Star Game.

The left-hander was the team’s workhorse, throwing 111 2/3 innings while posting a 2.58 ERA. The key to Lester’s success was he limited the long ball. In his 19 starts he only gave up 13 home runs surrendering one HR/9.

Now, post-All-Star Break Lester is a completely different story. In his first five starts of the second half, he only made it to the sixth inning once while posting a 10.32 ERA. He gave up nine home runs over that span and wasn’t fooling anyone at the plate.

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His biggest debacle came at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals when they beat him up for eight runs in just three innings of work. Lester allowed two home runs, five walks and seven hits before being chased.

Four starts later, the Washington Nationals tagged Lester for a season-high nine runs, eight of which were earned, in 3 2/3 innings of work. He also allowed a season-high 10 hits, three of which were long balls.

Those were easily and by far the two worst starts Lester has had all season. But his rough stretch raised questions as to whether or not he could bounce back and be the Cubs ace down the stretch.

Not to mention, the Cubs recent acquisition, Cole Hamels has pitched lights out. In his six starts with the Cubs, he’s looked more like the ace of the staff, allowing just three earned runs while posting a 0.69 ERA.

Lester gets locked in

With that said, Lester seems to be turning a corner at the right time. He’s won three out of his last four starts, pitching into the sixth inning in each game.

He’s given up just four runs, three of which came in one game on his way to a 1.52 ERA over that stretch. He’s gave up just one home run, surrendering 0.4 HR/9. On top of that he is making batters swing and miss more often, striking out 21 batters in those games.

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Lester may have been struggling earlier but he appears to be back. Based on his experience and track record, he remains the ace and backbone of the Cubs pitching staff. As long as he continues to pitch the way he has of late I would be surprised to see anyone other than him pitch a Cubs playoff opener.