The Washington Nationals are adding another veteran to their starting rotation.
Jon Lester and the Nats have agreed to a 1-year deal worth around a reported $5 million.
Lester has fallen off in the past two years after remarkable consistency throughout his career. In 12 starts with the Chicago Cubs in 2020, the 37-year-old posted a 5.16 ERA. His strikeouts per nine dropped to a career-worst 6.2 as well, so the Nationals may be targeting him as depth and veteran experience more than anything else.
The Nationals are not Lester’s preferred destination, but now he has a new team.
The Chicago Cubs do not seem to be close to a reunion with Jon Lester.
FanSided insider Robert Murray reported on Tuesday that Lester made it clear to the Cubs’ brass that he wanted to return to the team. However, Murray says there has been little progress toward a reunion.
Lester was on a 6-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. The declined his $25 million option for next season and instead chose to pay him a $10 million buyout. However, they could still bring him back on a cheaper deal.
A report in November said the Giants had interest in Lester. The 36-year-old southpaw went 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 61 innings last season.
The Cubs just dumped Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres, calling into question their motivations entering 2021.
Jon Lester may be leaving the Chicago Cubs, but he’s certainly making his goodbye a memorable one for some of the team’s fans.
Lester sent several tweets over the weekend inviting Cubs fans to visit four Chicago bars. On Monday, he tweeted the tabs, showing he spent over $47,000 on beers for fans. The tabs included over $16,000 in gratuity, as Lester tipped 34 percent, his uniform number.
The Cubs declined Lester’s $25 million option over the weekend, which was expected. Both sides have said they could reach a new deal for less money, but it’s far from a guarantee. That helped inspire Lester’s decision to pay for a possible parting gift.
The Cubs are facing a significant offseason with the futures of key players in flux. If Lester departs, it may mark the end of an era for the franchise.
Starting pitchers across baseball have had strong reactions to how the Tampa Bay Rays handled Blake Snell during the World Series. Jon Lester’s thoughts are among the funniest.
Lester is one of a number of veteran starters who prides himself on pitching deep into games and saving the bullpen. The notion of being pulled in the sixth inning after just 73 pitches while in the midst of a shutout is completely absurd to him.
So when asked by ESPN 1000 how he’d react in such a situation, Lester didn’t mince words.
“We’d have two pitchers on the mound,” Lester said, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN.
In other words, the 36-year-old wouldn’t be leaving the mound.
That sounds about right. His reaction isn’t much different from other pitchers around the league. You can read what they had to say here.
The Chicago Cubs were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday, and now it seems all but certain that Joe Maddon will not return as the team’s manager.
President Theo Epstein said before the season and has promised all along that big changes were in store if the team did not turn things around. By collapsing in the last few weeks the way they have, Maddon’s fate was probably sealed.
Cubs pitcher Jon Lester knows what awaits Maddon but wants to make sure fans appreciate what the manager has done for the team.
The Cubs may decide that they need a new voice leading the team. That’s probably better than having the cloud of Maddon uncertainty hovering over the team and the threat of major changes.
But Maddon’s body of work is admirable. He won 97 games in his first season with the team, 103 the next, and then 92 and 95. He took the Cubs to at least the NLCS in three straight years, and of course, he won the team’s first World Series since 1908, breaking a nearly 100-year-long curse. Except for this year’s disappointment, Maddon did incredible things for the Cubs. He’ll be sought-after if he ends up looking for a new job.
Jon Lester has not pitched particularly well over the past month with the Chicago Cubs clinging to the division lead in the NL Central, and he knows that has to change going forward.
Lester gave up a season-high 10 earned runs in just four innings of an 11-4 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night. He made no excuses after the game and called himself the “weakest link” in Chicago’s rotation.
Lester allowed five runs in five innings in his previous start, which ended up being an 8-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs have leaned on him for consistency in the past, but Lester has seen his ERA climb nearly a full run to 4.46 following his two duds.
The Cubs have benefitted from some sub-par play from their division foes this year. They still have a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals despite their 61-52 record, so they’re in good shape for the stretch run. Maybe Lester is thinking too much about the baseballs MLB is manufacturing, but his performance over the final two months of the season will be something to watch.
Jon Lester had a pretty blunt assessment of his counterpart after Thursday’s Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game.
The Cardinals shut out the Cubs 8-0 to take two of three in their series. Jack Flaherty took a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing a single to Nicholas Castellanos. It was the only hit the Cardinals staff allowed in the game.
Flaherty went seven innings, walking two and striking out nine to improve to 5-6.
“He pretty much shoved it right up our a–es,” Lester said of Flaherty after the game, via Patrick Mooney.
The 23-year-old is still figuring things out but has shown how dominant he can be at times. He allowed just one hit in a start twice last year and held his opponent scoreless four times. This was the fifth time this season he’s held an opponent scoreless in a start, though he has yet to work more than seven innings in an outing.
Lester meanwhile gave up five runs over five innings, raising his ERA to 3.86. Flaherty’s ERA is 3.93 this season.
Baseballs are being still blasted out of ballparks at a record pace more than a month into the MLB season, and the theory that it is now the balls — not the players — that are juiced is gaining popularity by the day. If that is the case, Jon Lester thinks the league should just admit it.
Last week, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price urged MLB to just “come clean and say it” with regard to balls being juiced. He and others feel the number of home runs and the distance they are being hit tell an obvious story, and Lester was asked on Tuesday for his thoughts on the topic. The Chicago Cubs veteran agrees with Price.
To this point, Major League Baseball has not admitted anything. Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that studies have confirmed there is less of a drag on the baseballs now than there used to be, but he insists that was not an intentional change.
“They could not conclude why that is, but they did have some theories, which in part were that the baseball is a hand-made product that is almost exclusively made from natural products,” Manfred said of the studies. “The result of that is there’s going to be some variations in baseballs. You cannot escape that fact.
“We’re in that range of variation that we don’t know how to eliminate. When the drag goes down, the ball goes further, and you’re going to have more home runs.”
We know one MLB legend who said last year that he believes the balls are being juiced, so this isn’t a new idea. There have been concerns about baseball decreasing in popularity in recent years, so it would not be a surprise if MLB did something to increase the number of balls sailing over the wall. Many pitchers seem convinced that is what has happened, but they want the league to come clean about it.
The Chicago Cubs saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion on Tuesday night with a 13-inning loss in the NL Wild Card Game, but Jon Lester feels they will be better for it in the long run.
Lester, who struck out nine and allowed just one earned run in six innings, told reporters after the game that getting “knocked down in the dirt” could help the Cubs realize how fortunate they were to be in the postseason.
While optimistic, Lester’s comment is a bit surprising given the way the game ended. Typically that mindset is more appropriate after a team gets blown or or doesn’t show up ready to play, but the Cubs fought hard for 13 innings and lost on a clutch hit from a little-known backup catcher.
Chicago started out extremely slow this season before straightening things out, and there’s no reason to think they won’t be right back in the thick of things in 2019. If they share the same mindset as Lester, they should be more motivated than ever.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon took some heat for a tweet he sent about Jon Lester during the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night.
Taillon noted that Lester got a favorable call on his cutter early in the Chicago Cubs’ game against the Colorado Rockies, saying it’s a call Lester always gets.
Some fans thought that was an example of Taillon showing some saltiness over Lester getting calls others don’t. He tried to clarify himself and say it wasn’t a diss.
Taillon may have backed off the notion that he was throwing shade at Lester, but it’s not like he was wrong about Lester getting a favorable call. The Cubs southpaw struck out Trevor Story on three pitches in the first inning. MLB’s technology showed that all three pitches were outside, including the first and third, which were backdoor pitches called for strikes.
In the fourth, Lester benefited from another generous call from home plate umpire Chris Guccione. Guccione punched out Ian Desmond on a 3-2 backdoor curve that appeared to be outside.
Shade intended or not, Taillon wasn’t wrong about Lester benefiting from generous calls against the Rockies.