Is Lester a Bust For Cubs?

Jon Lester Chicago Cubs

Are we putting too much pressure on Jon Lester? Last night, the Cubs fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 in extra innings. I get that it’s a new team and I understand that the adjustments from American League to National League can take a while but seeing that it’s only two months into the season, is it too early to do something about it?

“I don’t know if pressing is the right word,” Lester said. “You come to a new team, new guys, new city, new everything and you want to get off on the right foot. Everybody knows with the contract stuff, I defintely don’t want to be one of those guys who at the end of it, you look at it as a bust.”

You can certainly see the reason folks might start calling him a bust. So, it raises another question and that is are these huge contracts putting too much pressure on the player and the fans judgements of that player? Now, I’m not questioning whether Lester is a good pitcher or not because he is. It’s the size of these contracts that could be putting the pressure on them. All right, Lester’s a pro and he should be able to settle in a groove soon. He’s a notoriously late starter but does that make it all right? What if they put him down in the rotation?

“The biggest thing we’re waiting on is the first hit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That will truly get the monkey off his back.”

Another issue that’s plagued the Cubs recently which was of a main concern last season was Runners In Scoring Position. However, last night Junior Lake put an end to that which is another issue with such a young squad.

“It’s obviously a little bit frustrating but I believe part of it is the inexperience and youthfulness of a lot of our hitters,” Maddon said. “I know we’ll get better at it. If you believe in the law of averages and things starting to catch up, the game owes us a little bit. You’ve got to be encouraged that you can hold serve through this particular moment.”

Nobody said that 2015 Cubs edition was going to be easy.

Believe it.

11 comments

  1. rlincolnharris · May 23, 2015

    He’s making the kind of money that most people will never see, and the expectations will certainly come with that. There’s the tradeoff: financial security for his children’s children, but expectations that he perform exceedingly well to be considered worthy of receiving it. Shed no tears for Jon Lester.

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  2. rlincolnharris · May 23, 2015

    We should have learned how to throw a curveball.

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  3. Compwhiz 3001 · May 23, 2015

    It’s not about the pressure. Lester is our ace, and he’s going to keep his team competitive towards the late innings. The Cubs’ real problem is that their ace is an American League pitcher who is not adapting to his new League.

    He can’t hold runners on first. While this isn’t strictly a League issue, I can only guess that American League runners must tremble in their cleats at any southpaw by default. Because here in the National League, runners already have Lester’s number and MLB may have to introduce the Pitcher’s Inability stat to account for Lester’s runners. Last night, there were a couple steals where there was simply no point in Ross even risking a throw to second.

    While I haven’t observed specific plays as proof, my impression is that Lester is hardly athletic by pitchers’ fielding standards. His problems throwing to first are Exhibit A, at least. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think he’ll approach being even a quarter of a Greg Maddux when it comes to fielding.

    And of course the big problem is that he can’t hit. At all. Maddon’s comment about Lester just needing that first hit surprises me because it’s obvious Lester has no clue what to do at the plate. Sure, he’ll get a hit eventually; flukes happen. But the raw truth is that a National League starter must, at a minimum, be able to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The danger with Lester’s non-hitting is that Maddon could very well end up in situations in the seventh, sixth, or even fifth inning where he’ll be forced to pull Lester early because he needs a sacrifice bunt. I’ve never seen such automatic outs as Lester’s at-bats (short of a middle reliever forced to bat who keeps the bat on his shoulder for three pitches).

    Lester is great at pitching, but apparently nothing else. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Faberge arms don’t cut it in the National League.

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    • Mark Gauthier · May 23, 2015

      That’s pretty bang on. Lester has to throw to first and hit, otherwise no matter how good of an arm he has, it’s not going to make any difference. In many ways, Travis Wood is a much better National League pitcher. Hopefully, they’re getting pointers from each other.

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      • Compwhiz 3001 · May 23, 2015

        Here’s a question…five Travis Woods or one Jon Lester? At least the former gives you four additional pinch hitters every game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Gauthier · May 23, 2015

        I like Travis Wood. However, I still think Kyle Hendricks is going to be an ace in a couple of years.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave · May 24, 2015

    Wood can start, be the middleman or, close. Wood can hit, and he doesn’t have to pitch to hit. Wood can also throw to 1st. Lester was highly touted as an ace, and is being paid to be the ace he hasn’t yet become. For the kind of money given there, I was looking for the Cubs’ edition of Madison Baumgarner or Justin Verlander.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Gauthier · May 24, 2015

      Yup. Nothing against Lester, but I too have yet to see anything worth the salary. My favourite is Hendricks. That complete game showed us a lot of good and exciting things to come from the kid known as the Professor.

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      • Dave · May 24, 2015

        Totally agree on Hendricks!

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