Discussing Jon Lester's Season in a Meaningful Way and Other Bullets

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Discussing Jon Lester’s Season in a Meaningful Way and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

jon lester cubs featureExtremely sad story out of Atlanta, where a Braves fan fell over a railing last night and ultimately died from his injuries.

You go to a ballgame to have some fun, and then that’s it. I suppose it could happen any number of places, but it hits close to home because we, here, are baseball fans and go to many baseball games. So, so sad. I hope the best for his loved ones. And I hope everyone remembers to be safe where there are tons of people around, flying objects, potentially steep falls, and hard surfaces.

  • While I don’t agree with everything in this ESPN piece on Jon Lester’s start and season, I do think it puts the spotlight on all the right things. It may be uncomfortable to accept, but the reality is that Lester is a very good pitcher, who sometimes gets hit. Sometimes that’s because he’s missing spots and yielding hard contact (Tigers, several starts early in the year), and sometimes it’s because the balls find holes (a lot of last night). He has troubled throwing to bases when fielding the ball, and that does lead to some issues, though relatively minimal in the grand scheme. He cannot hold runners on base, and that does lead to some issues, albeit not as important as how he pitches (but definitely not insignificant, either). There are a lot of overlapping layers here, involving player performance, baseball luck, value and impact of certain skills versus others, etc., and that’s what makes Lester’s performance with the Cubs relatively difficult to discuss in a small space. You can’t sum up his season – or even a single game – in a Tweet, and many folks don’t have the stomach for a nuanced discussion of the good and the bad. This is all complicated by his status as a “huge free agent signing,” even though that’s mostly an irrational consideration when you’re trying to granulize his performance on a game-by-game basis.
  • Against that backdrop, I thought Lester pitched really well last night. He was fantastic through six innings – in both performance and results – and then he gave up four straight hits in the seventh, only one (maybe two) of which was actually well-struck. Did he hurt himself by elevating two-strike pitches? Yup, definitely. Is that the end-all, be-all of evaluating his performance in a game? When those pitches could have just as easily led to ground outs and fly outs, even though he performed exactly the same? No. It’s not.
  • With that start, by the way, Lester dropped his FIP and xFIP to 3.04 (15th best in baseball) and 3.06 (11th best). His ERA is a half-run higher, which is partly bad luck with sequencing, but also partly his own inability to hold runners.
  • Joe Maddon reminds folks that West Coast trips can be tough for young guys who’ve not been through it before (Cubs.com).
  • Chase Utley wouldn’t bite when reporters tried to find out whether he would have accepted a trade to the Cubs, or if he was just angling to get to LA all along (CSN).
  • If you missed Scoreboard Watching from this morning, or the news that Javier Baez will likely be up within in a matter of days.


Author: Brett Taylor

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