Jon Lester Feeling Good, Ready, and Better Than the Last Couple Years

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Jon Lester Feeling Good, Ready, and Better Than the Last Couple Years

Chicago Cubs

An established, veteran starting pitcher usually sees his most full Spring Training outing in his second-to-last start of the Spring. That means guys should be stretching out this week, and since we didn’t get to see him in a Cactus League game, I wanted to check in and confirm that all was well with Jon Lester.

He started on the back fields in a minor league game, and all checked out for building his arm up:

Although he’s 35, Lester has the kind of diverse repertoire and command to continue pitching successfully even without elite velocity. That said, you wonder whether he will benefit from having a shorter season in 2018 than he’d had the previous three years. Maybe the arm (which includes a loose body that has impacted him early in the year before, remember that?) will be just a touch more refreshed in the early going than in recent years past?

Maybe so, maybe not, but I did like hearing it from Lester himself that he feels better this year at this time than he did last year and the year before.

Lester saw very good results in 2018 – a 3.32 ERA over 32 starts and 181.2 innings – but obviously we had concerns all year about his velocity, movement, and peripherals all trending strongly in the wrong direction. Some of that will persist, because time is undefeated. But, with a great pitching infrastructure around him and the kind of pitching intelligence that I’m tempted to be a meatball and call elite, I just think Lester can be a successful starting pitcher for the Cubs again in 2019. Maybe that’ll mean continuing to beat the peripherals, or maybe it’ll mean a rebound in them. Or both!

The good news is that the Cubs don’t necessarily need Lester to dominate at this point. They need him to be a guy who gives them six innings consistently, and gives the team a chance to win. He can still be that guy. Absolutely.

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

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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.