Cubs News: Thanks, Jon Lester for all the memories
by Paul Seifert | October 31, 2020
The Chicago Cubs declined Lesters $25 million option, deciding to buy out the 36-year-old lefty for $10 million. Then he bought fans a beer.
We knew it was time for the Chicago Cubs. Age, the changes in the game like spin rates and pitch counts, and advanced metrics like FIP- and ERA- all told us what we were seeing. A dominant youngster in his prime became the wily veteran, then the struggling former ace.
After the disappointing 2019 season, even Big Jon admitted it was slipping. The season sucked personally for me, but it also sucked for the team, and thats what matters most. Classic Jon Lester.
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Some see only these last two years, with the loss of velocity on the fastball and the ERA increase. To them, it seems an eternity ago when Lester signed with Cubs in 2015. It isnt, though, and a couple of facts that bear repeating is that Jon Lester is the best free-agent signing by any Cubs front office ever and a key reason for the best run of Cubs baseball in nearly a century.
Lesters competitiveness is off the charts; his approach to his craft is professionalism defined; his commitment to the Cubs, the city, and the fans are total.
The Red Sox got the most of Jon Lester. Nine seasons, 242 games, 1519 1/3 innings pitched, and a 110-63 record. He was a Cy Young candidate twice for Boston in 2010 and 2014 and a three-time All- star.
Jons time in Oakland, where he was traded along with Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes, was outstanding, a 2.32 ERA and 1.071 WHIP, until the postseason when the Royals stole seven bases and the eighth inning got out of hand.
Boston may have gotten the most of Jon Lester, but the Cubs got his best years. Jons best career season was 2016, with a 2.44 ERA, a 1.016 WHIP, a 19-5 record, and over two hundred innings pitched. That postseason, Lester shut out the Giants in the NLDS, earned co- MVP honors in the NLCS, and won an elimination World Series Game 5. After allowing two runs on a wild pitch in Game 7, he shut down the Indians the next 2 2/3 innings.
Lester nearly reprised his 2016 season in 2018, going 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA. But by then, it was catching up to 64" lefty. It was age maybe, or a declining fastball definitely, or maybe the cutter that was losing its potency. He posted a 1.310 WHIP in 2018, and it would get worse from there.
Overall he pitched 171 games for the Cubs, compiling a 77-44 record, the same .636 winning percentage he had in Boston, posting a 3.64 ERA (again the same ERA he posted with Boston) and a 1.248 WHIP.
Jon Lester is a large part of the reason the reason the Cubs were World Champs in 2016.