Another rain delay, more crummy conditions, and a streaking Reds lineup. Jon Lester don’t care.
Lester came out last night and put together one of the Cubs’ best starting outings of the year, allowing just one solo home run (and one other hit) over six innings, walking one and striking out eight.
As you could see, Lester’s four-seamer and cutter were working really well last night, netting 14 whiffs on the night between them (and he had another on the curveball). His velocity was solidly in his new normal, and his location was darn near perfect the entire night. This 34-year-old version of Jon Lester can still be very successful, even in the low-90s.
On first glance, the quality of contact issues persisted in this start (lots of hard contact (45.5%), almost no soft contact (9.1%)), however, most of that medium and hard contact came on the ground, and Lester had an excellent 54.5% groundball rate for the game. Given that one of the concerning aspects of Lester’s season so far has been the sharp downturn in his groundball rate, this was a very good outing on the contact front.
When he’s locating as well as he was last night, you’re gonna see a lot of groundballs, a lot of strikes taken on the edges, and a lot of whiffs at pitches that otherwise look hittable to the untrained eye (because it’s likely he just sequenced the hell out of you).
Loved what I saw last night from Lester, whose peripherals will still scare you, but who is an established veteran who is among the best bets in baseball to still figure out a way to succeed. His 2.52 ERA is now 7th best in the National League. (So what if his 4.38 FIP is the 13th highest …. )