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Lester’s Excellent Tune Up, Who Starts Game One, Running on Willy, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

The last day of the regular season. Often I feel like it came too quickly, but this season was such a grind for so long that it doesn’t have that same “it’s here already?!?” feel. Instead, it feels wholly appropriate that today is the final day of the regular season. I’m extremely excited for the playoffs to get underway.


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In the meantime …

  • By the line, Jon Lester’s five-inning tune up yesterday was fantastic against a decent Reds lineup. Lester struck out 7 and walked none over his 5.0 innings, allowing just four hits and no runs. By game score, a nice 69, it was actually Lester’s best start since July. Maybe even better than all that, the hard contact was down (27.3%), and the soft contact was beautiful (also 27.3%). Velocity-wise, he was about 90 mph with his cutter, about 91 mph with his sinker, and about 92-93 mph with his four-seamer, each a bit higher than he’s averaged this season.
  • So, on the whole, for a last start before the postseason, for a guy who’s dealt with injury and ineffectiveness lately, I’d say that was about as good as you could have hoped for. Now we wait to see where he slots into the rotation, which could depend in part on how Jake Arrieta’s hamstring is feeling. For me, right now, it all comes down to which of the Cubs’ starters I’d want getting two starts if the game goes to a decisive Game Five. In a perfect world, maybe that would have been Lester or Arrieta, but without the same confidence in them that we’ve had in years past, I come down to Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. Each has been so very good lately that you could almost flip a coin. In fact, I’ve typed out this sentence a few times and changed from Quintana to Hendricks to Quintana and back, so … yeah, one of those two.
  • Quintana is slated to throw a simulated game on Wednesday with Jake Arrieta (Cubs.com), though, so it seems unlikely he’d be coming right back to start on Friday. So, then, your good bet for Game One is either Lester or Hendricks.

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  • Speaking of Game One, it remains to be seen if the Nats will go with Max Scherzer, who got an MRI last night on his hamstring.
  • Great to see Albert Almora get back into game action after a scary-looking shoulder injury this past week. The Cubs have absolutely had their injury issues this season, but they also have avoided serious injuries so many times when it looked like that would be impossible.
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
  • A crazy Kris Bryant stat from Cubs.com: by appearing in his 150th game yesterday, he became the first Cub to ever play 150 games in each of his first three seasons, and just the 11th player to do so in big league history.

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  • When you run on Willson Contreras and Javy Baez, I’m sorry, but this is what you deserve:

  • Bonus? Make sure you watch Contreras.
  • Tommy La Stella worked a 17(!)-pitch at bat yesterday, ultimately striking out looking against an Asher Wojciechowski breaking ball.
  • Fanatics has a three-tiered sale going on:

  • Price checking the playoff ticket situation on the secondary market:

  • The Bears aren’t playing today, having been smacked around on Thursday, but this is pretty funny:

  • Storage items and dirt cheap Kindle books are Deals of the Day at Amazon today, and a certified refurbished Roku stick is 20% off.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.