Not the most conventional way to get outs, but Lester found a way to get the job done.
Much like his hitting, Lester’s fielding from the mound took some criticism his first few seasons on the North Side.
For some strange reasons, Lester struggled when it came to throwing to bases on plays from the mound and even pick-off attempts. To make things even weirder, there were times when he would have to throw not just the ball, but his glove as well.
All jokes aside, a pitcher needs to be able to field to help his team win games. I remember going to a Sunday night game in 2015 against the Reds, where Billy Hamilton stole five bases during a Lester start.
As soon as teams got a runner-on against Lester, they planned on stealing a base, knowing he wouldn’t attempt a pick-off, and if he did, who knows where the ball would end up. Some would even bunt back to the mound to test him.
To his credit, Lester made the necessary improvements with the Cubs, and now you don’t see these kinds of things anymore.
In his first season with the team, Big Jon committed three errors. Since then, Lester has committed just two errors in the past five seasons combined.
It would be easy for a multi-million dollar athlete not to care as much, we see it a lot around all sports, but someone like Lester is built differently. The lefty has a competitive attitude about him that he brings to the ballpark every day, and that is why we have seen the improvements in hitting and fielding.
I think that is what I will miss the most about Lester because it is not something that can be taught, and it isn’t something every player has.
He will still have a start or two in a Cubs uniform, and knowing the competitor he is; I guarantee he will leave it all on the field.