Chicago Cubs: Looking like a 20-game winner once again
After taking the loss on Opening Day in Miami, Lester turned it on. He pitched to an earned run average no higher than 2.71 in April, May and June, heading into the month of July at 10-2. A two-time 19-game winner, this looked like it might be the season he finally cracked 20 victories.
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The southpaw was lights-out nearly every time he took the ball in the first half, turning in 111 2/3 innings of ball in which he held opponents to a .224 clip. His exploits loomed large in the grand scheme of things on the North Side. Those who had envisioned a one-two punch of Lester and right-hander Yu Darvish were in for a rude awakening.
Darvish took the ball for the last time on May 20. But, in typical Jon Lester fashion, the Cubs ace put his head down and just kept grinding, going 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA in June, doing everything he could to keep his team atop the division.
His efforts netted him his fifth career All-Star selection. He finished up the first half at 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 19 outings and it looked as if he might have a real shot as a National League Cy Young finalist.