Why Jon Lester's Ugly Outing Doesn't Concern Me at All and Other Bullets

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Why Jon Lester’s Ugly Outing Doesn’t Concern Me at All and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jon lester cubs featureThe Wife and I are doing an outdoor workout class together this morning, which is a rare treat (The Mom is coming up to hang with the kiddos). What a strange, and unrecognizable life I now live that getting to do a two-hour outdoor workout class with my spouse – as opposed to going to see a movie, getting a nice dinner, etc. – is what I consider a rare treat. My 25-year-old self is all, “Whaaaaaat?!?” But I say a big thanks to The Wife for getting me into these classes in the first place, so it really is cool to get to periodically do them together and share that world.

  • It’s worth pointing out up here, because it’s important, in case you somehow missed it yesterday: the news on Jason Heyward was extremely good. The MRI revealed only a contusion, he was feeling better yesterday, and expects to miss only three to five games. Heyward has the right attitude right now, though (ESPN): listen to your body, and don’t rush things. It’s really unfortunate that he’ll likely miss the whole Cardinals series in St. Louis, but having him healthy and available for the rest of the season is much more important.
  • On being bounced after just 2.2 innings, Jon Lester said exactly what you’d expect, given how the game played out (Cubs.com): he simply wasn’t getting the ball where he wanted it, and paid for it. Until and unless a much longer pattern develops, I can pretty comfortably chalk this one up to “everyone has a bad day.” I immediately thought of the 2.2 inning performance Lester had against the Tigers in August last year, which came after he’d been brilliant for a stretch, and came immediately before he was brilliant for a stretch to end the season. In other words, in very recent memory, Lester has had a got-blown-up 2.2 inning outing, which was not indicative of how he was performing or how he would perform thereafter. It sucks to lose the game, but I’m not taking much more from it than that.
  • Plus, you have to keep in mind that this is what statistical regression looks like. Lester came into the game with 91.1% LOB rate, which means he wasn’t giving up hits when guys happened to be on base – limiting damage is a skill, especially for a guy with a diverse repertoire and the ability to amp up a bit for strikeouts when needed, but not to that extent. So, how does the LOB rate come down? Well, you give up a two-run double here, and a two-run homer there (as Lester did last night). Those two pitches were the difference in the game, and dropped his LOB rate to 85.6%. That’s still gonna come down about 10 percentage points to get closer to his career average (it always seems to be roughly around that 74-75% mark for him, which is better than average), so prepare yourself for more runs given up.
  • Oh, and that two-run double? It came from opposing starter Matt Cain, who not only pitched like it was several years ago, but that was also his first hit in two years. Baseball.
  • And, hey, how about that bullpen performance? 5.1 scoreless innings, which, although surely aided by the shadows and the depleted Giants lineup, extended a stretch where they haven’t really allowed bupkis for over a week now (even though it has, strangely, been a really bad week for the Cubs overall). I also found it fitting that the day the Cubs decide to go down to seven relievers by DFA’ing Neil Ramirez, they then needed the bullpen to cover the majority of the game.
  • On the decision to let Ramirez go, by the way, Joe Maddon told ESPN that the Cubs had always been thinking of dropping down to seven relievers, and he hopes Ramirez has a “better opportunity” to pitch elsewhere. So, like I said yesterday: yeah, not expecting Ramirez to clear waivers and stick within the Cubs’ organization.
  • Everyone who was watching the game last night wants to know: what did the strike zone map look like, because it sure seemed like it was ridiculous. And, sure enough, here it is at Brooks. Pretty uniformly awful. A better called zone and maybe that game is different, but, since there really wasn’t one team getting jobbed and another getting all the calls, you can’t really blame the game on the zone. It was just a really, really bad zone. I’m sure the shadows at the plate were making things tough. But boy, some of those missed calls are eye-popping.
  • I’m not much of a magazine reader, but I do admit to having and enjoying an Entertainment Weekly subscription. A year’s worth is on sale at Amazon right now for just $10.
  • I’ll want to dig into this much more specifically soon, but, in the meantime, there’s a fantastic write-up on Jason McCleod in the Boston Globe.
  • Those lame, old, tired comments from folks about Jake Arrieta and PEDs? The Commissioner found them to be “distasteful” and “inappropriate.”
  • Maybe it’s the parent in me coming out, but I’d like to think I would have loved this so very much regardless of my parentage status (also – give BIF a follow on Twitter, please!):

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Author: Brett Taylor

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