Chicago Cubs: He is still the alpha of the pack, even in his mid-30s
Jon Lester is coming off a pretty weird season. The traditional numbers say he was really good, and for stretches of the season he was, but he struggled at times and the peripherals were not always pretty. Still, he found ways to be effective even without his best stuff and finished the season strong. In a big game, he is as reliable as it gets.
In terms of 2019, it has come to the point where the expectations for him are not quite as high on a full season with his age. 200-plus innings pitched and strikeouts recorded seems like a thing of the past, but he can still be very effective even if that proves to be the case.
He has been able to adjust the past year or so to pitch to his defense when the velocity has not always been there. His strikeouts per nine dropped from 9.0 in 2017 to 7.4 in 2018. He can bring it up a bit, but still hard to see it as high as it was.
Like last year he will record plenty of hard-hit outs and get out of some jams. A hope is that the command is a little better because there were times in 2018 where the walks were coming more than desired, though still not at an alarmingly high rate. At 34 going on 35, these would be very acceptable numbers.
Prediction: 180 IP / 3.60 ERA / 1.3 WHIP / 4.10 FIP / 55 BB / 160 K