Cubs: Jon Lester left it all on the field, battling fatigue issues in 2020

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

As if we needed another reason to have an unyielding respect for Jon Lester and what he did during his time in a Chicago Cubs uniform.

Battling through a 2020 season that had the fingerprints of a global pandemic all over it, the gritty veteran quietly pushed through endless fatigue related to a thyroid issue. Earlier this spring, Lester underwent surgery to remove his thyroid gland, the cause of the fatigue.

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In typical Lester fashion, all year, he just kept telling himself he was at fault for feeling like he did, often blaming conditioning or training. Now, the Washington Nationals southpaw is feeling more energized, ready to add a fourth World Series ring to his trophy case at age 37.

"“There would be times where I would run out in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning and feel like I hit a brick wall. There were times last year where I would come out of the bullpen and be like: ‘God, did I pitch the game already?’ “Just thinking that maybe I needed to do a little extra in the weight room. Maybe I needed to run a bit more. Maybe I needed to do 20 extra minutes on cardio or whatever. When in actuality, this thing was slowing me down.”"

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lester never got one final standing ovation from the Wrigley Field faithful. There was no final moment, no big outs to be gotten in October. In the end, it was a subdued end to a lengthy stint that will undoubtedly stand the test of time in the minds of Cubs fans everywhere.

Cubs: There was more to the struggles of Jon Lester than we knew

We all chalked up Lester’s 2020 struggles to the fact he’s been doing this for 15 years now, amassing well over 2,500 innings in his lengthy career. So far be it from any of us to be surprised when he seemed to be looking his age last year, struggling to a career-worst 5.16 ERA/5.14 FIP in a dozen starts.

Those struggles, paired with the front office’s total inability to spend money early in the offseason, led to Lester moving on from the North Side, where put up a .636 winning percentage over six seasons, playing a critical role in changing the culture at the Friendly Confines and forever altering what it meant to be a Cub.

Now, slotted in at the back end of former Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez’s rotation in D.C., Lester has the opportunity to put the final touches on a potential Hall of Fame career. Another ring – especially if it means more big-time October outings – could be the difference-maker to voters who look back on his body of work.

Next. Once again, the Cubs have a Craig Kimbrel problem. dark

No matter how it winds up playing out, one thing’s for sure. Jon Lester is a Cubs legend – and knowing he gutted his way through 2020 is just one more instance of him doing whatever it takes to help his team be successful.