It is essential for the fate of the Chicago Cubs in the postseason that starter Jon Lester pitches his very best for the rest of the regular season.
It is no secret that Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester has been struggling as of late. The 35-year-old has gone 2-3, with a 5.79 ERA in his last seven starts. While he has gotten the wins for two of his previous three starts, the one-loss on Aug. 23 against the Washington Nationals was especially brutal.
Amidst an incredibly close wildcard race among the National League, the Cubbies found themselves battling the Nationals in late August. Both teams knew the importance of this series, and the red-hot Nationals ended up reigning victorious after all three games. While all three outings did not go as the Cubs planned by any means, the first game was probably the most brutal loss of the series.
Lester opened the series, immediately following a three-game sweep by the San Francisco Giants. While the team went into the series feeling hopeful, the Nationals offense crushed that hope and jumped all over Lester and racked up run after run. In the end, the Cubs lost 9-3 and this first loss of the series, unfortunately, set the mood for the entire series.
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After a rough six-game losing streak, the Cubs set off to redeem themselves and did gain some ground in the wildcard race by putting three much-needed wins under their belts by sweeping the New York Mets. Lester opened that series, and though he has struggled throughout August, he pitched six solid innings and only gave up one run to New York.
However, the Cubs lost two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers, a division rival, and an essential team to beat pushing towards the postseason. The Chicago Cubs are hoping to sweep the Mariners, which should be two easy games keeping them ahead in the wildcard race.
Lester is set to make the start Tuesday night against the Mariners and the entire team is probably looking for him to go out like a bang, as he did in his last outing. Lester has gone 11-9 with a 4.36 ERA in 26 starts with a 1.441 WHIP. These numbers aren’t atrocious, but they aren’t exactly stats of a pitcher to carry a team to the playoffs.
One thing that Lester does have working in his favor is his strong command over pitches. A Baseball Prospectus statistic CSAA (measures strikes outside reference zone) has Lester ranked in the top 1% of pitchers, fifth on the list overall.
Lester needs to have his best stuff for the remainder of the season for a playoff run to happen this year. Hopefully, Lester can get back on track.