Chicago Cubs: Making Jon Lester’s case for the Hall of Fame

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

From 2015 to 2020, Jon Lester was a staple of the Chicago Cubs organization. At the front end of the starting rotation, Lester notched a career record of 77-44 with the Cubs, to go along a 3.64 ERA over 1002 2/3 innings of work.

The owner of a .636 win percentage in his time on the North Side, Lester experienced his greatest success in 2016 where he posted a 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA, helping to lead the Cubs to their first World Series championship in the process.

However, Lester’s illustrious career spans back further than just his dominance in Chicago. In his time prior to coming to Chicago, the left-hander was also a mainstay for the Boston Red Sox, with whom he posted a 3.76 ERA over the course of eight seasons while delivering a record of 100-56, earning All-Star honors twice.

In his second year with Boston, he started and won Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, notching his first World Series victory and completing the sweep of the Colorado Rockies . Following his first championship season in his third year in the bigs, he tossed a no-hitter for Boston in what became a breakout year for him. The lefty went on to post a 16-6 record with a 3.21 ERA and 3.64 FIP. The 2008 season helped put Lester on the map with his first full length season and it was really the first time he had a well above average year.

Fast forward to 2013 and Lester won not one, but two games in the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, collecting his second ring in the process. For the season, Lester went 15-8 over 213 1/3 frames to go along with a 3.75 ERA. From 2008 to 2014, Lester notched at least 15 wins in five of six seasons. From there, as I said, Lester helped the Cubs finally break the curse, turning in the best season of his career. In 2016, Lester earned his fourth All-Star appearance and went 19-5 in the regular season, adding to his wonderful postseason resume come October

Lester has received All-Star honors five times during his career and though he hasn’t received a Cy Young award, he has had landed in the top 5 three times. Most notably in 2016 when he posted his 19-5 season, where his .792 win percentage was best in the league, he finished second in Cy Young voting while ultimately falling short to Max Scherzer which you could never be upset about.

Currently, Lester has a 2,484 career strikeouts, which puts him at 41st on the all-time list. He has broke through the 200 punchout plateau four times in his career. Not much of a suprise given his durability, Lester has seen at least 30 starts in 12 different seasons and has been an absolutely workhorse, averaging 206 innings pitched per 162 games.

For the 2021 season, Lester recently reached a milestone in the form of his 200th career win, which further adds to his list of accolades as his 200-117 record is good for .631 career win percentage, or nearly two thirds of every game in which he has factored in the decision.

For the postseason, the grizzled veteran has been Mr. Clutch when it matters most which furthers his case for the Hall of Fame. Over 26 career postseason starts, he has gone 9-7 with a 2.52 ERA. His nine postseason wins rank third among active pitchers, his 2.51 postseason ERA sits at seventh.

As Lester reaches the end of his career, he has not yet ruled out returning in 2022 for a 17th season but rather will reconvene after the end of this year. With St. Louis has been scorching hot, Lester will now get the opportunity to add to his successful postseason resune. We wish him the best moving forward wherever he should wind up playing, but the fact is simple fact is Jon Lester has done enough to earn his nod to Cooperstown.