Chicago Cubs: These 10 players must have success this season

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Lester continues to out-pitch the numbers, trends

When the Chicago Cubs needed a win in the National League Wild Card game against the Colorado Rockies, they knew who to turn to: Jon Lester. Long considered one of baseball’s best big-game pitchers, the veteran southpaw held his own, turning in six innings of one-run ball, striking out nine and scattering four hits.

Unfortunately, as had been the case for much of the second half, the Cubs’ offense failed to show up and the team’s postseason ended that night in a heartbreaking 13-inning loss in front of the Wrigley Field faithful. If you think Lester’s forgotten about that game, you’re sorely mistaken.

Winner of a league-leading 18 games a year ago, the gritty hurler is ready to silence his critics – many of whom point to his age and unfavorable peripherals (his FIP has gone up annually since he joined the Cubs) as reasons to believe a decline is imminent.

Last season, the Chicago pitching staff kept the team afloat right down to the final days – and Lester was a big part of that success. For much of the season, he looked like a guy who might eclipse 20 wins for the first time in his career. Despite missing that mark, he was the unmistakable ace in the rotation, repeatedly coming up in the clutch when the team needed a win.

Paired atop the rotation with fellow lefty Cole Hamels, Lester will once again look to lead the Cubs hurlers – but he’s got way more than a Wild Card berth on his mind in 2019.