OK, we’ve been happy about the home opener enough (apparently), and now I’ve gotta talk about the scary part where Jon Lester ran the bases, slid twice, and then was pulled before he recorded an out in the third inning yesterday.
Lester, long one of the Cubs’ rocks, left the game with what was ultimately dubbed left hamstring “tightness.” It was clear after he ran the bases in the second inning that his delivery was off in the third, and although he talked his way into staying in the game at first, Joe Maddon ultimately decided to pull the plug.
Lester will be getting an MRI today to determine the extent of the issue. Lester, himself, didn’t feel like it was too series immediately after the game, describing it as more like cramping than a kind of pop situation:
Lester says he was feeling good pitching, but it was just the running the bases that felt off for him. He still thinks he’s gonna make his next start, but obviously today’s MRI results could change that very quickly. And, frankly, even if the MRI looks great, you might want to at least consider pushing Lester’s next start back a little bit. You certainly don’t want him out there just because he’s “healthy,” but his performance is compromised.
Speaking of which, we noticed in the park yesterday that Lester’s velocity took a nose dive in that third inning:
That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s seriously injured, mind you, but it does mean that his delivery was compromised by the hamstring issue. So even if he feels good enough to pitch, he might not be at his best if there’s just enough in there to mess with his mechanics.
Hopefully we get some very good news today, and Lester is set to miss, at most, just one start. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs give the ball to Tyler Chatwood, since he’s semi-stretched out, and didn’t pitch yesterday. They could even try to play with the rotation a bit to give extra rest to other guys and/or play with match-ups.
UPDATE: This would take Lester out of the mix for at least one start:
Source says Jon Lester will be placed on the IL. Don’t know the extent of the injury beyond that.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 9, 2019
With Chatwood likely to take that start, the Cubs will be able to supplement the bullpen with another arm from AAA in the interim if they’d like. And I reckon they will.