A while ago when Jon Lester was hired to be the ace of the Chicago Cubs, every fan, myself included breathed a huge sigh of relief. Good times are here again! So, last season came as quite a surprise when Jake Arrieta took the league by storm and emerged as the dominant pitcher. Not slighting Lester in the least but Arrieta just came into his own.
Last night’s Chicago Cubs victory over the Cincinnati Reds 8-1 may have been the game where Lester could potentially have reclaimed his throne. no, he didn’t have the game that Arrieta had on Thursday but he showed why the Cubs still pay him the big bucks.
“The scary part for the opponents is you look up at some of our guys, and they’re not really swinging the bat too great,” Lester said. “Our pitching has been really consistent, and I think that’s going to be the backbone of this team, and it will take us to where we want to go. The fun part for us is knowing a lot of these guys haven’t got hot yet, and you look at the start we’ve had. When you’ve had a good start, you can sit back, you’re not pressing as much.”
Lester pitched seven innings. That’s the difference to why the Cubs are doing so well. Their pitchers are going deep into the game.
“We’ve been consistent,” Lester said. “That’s been the best thing to see from my standpoint. We’ve consistently gone into the sixth, seventh inning, and sometimes deeper. I feel like last year, we burnt out our bullpen early on. We knew coming in we’d have a good staff. I’ve never been a part of a staff that has 1,000 innings before, and I’d like to see that. I think we have five guys who can push the envelope and do that.”
That would be something, wouldn’t it? That’s old school baseball. I’ll take that over no hitters any day.
Another surprise was the stellar play of Javier Baez. The often criticized and inconsistent play of the Cubs utility man, who played third base last night had the opportunity and came so close to completing a triple play.
“He brings a lot of athleticism to the field,” manager Joe Maddon said. “When he’s on the field, we have another good baseball player out there. I like his adjustments to the plate. I liked his base hit to right field a lot. He might get out of control with his swing once in a while, but he comes back down to earth after that. He’s learning, but you can see the quality of his defense and base running. It’s really high-end.”
We know his bat is a cannon, but it’s his timing that isn’t always on cue however, in the ninth inning his bat connected and he hit his first home run of the season. He’s out to prove something and this is the season where he can turn the corner and prove that he’s the player the Cubs hoped for.
“We all know he can flat out play defense and pick it,” Lester said. “He has some good at-bats. You can see him mature a bit last year. I wasn’t around the year before and had the hearsay of his approach and all that. But it goes along with the rest of the young guys. You see them grow up and get at-bats, and that’s the biggest thing from him. He knows he’s going to have a chance to play different positions and be our Ben Zobrist. It’s good for Javy. Hopefully he can get going and be a big contributor to this team and can continue to do that for us.”