Jon Lester’s struggles continue in a Cubs loss to the Nationals

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Starting pitcher Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on August 11, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – In the first half of the season, he was the ace that Cubs fans have gotten used to since the beginning of the 2015 season. Over the last month, however, he’s started  looking more like the pitcher who had an up-and-down 2017 season.

Jon Lester’s post All-Star Break struggles not only continued on Saturday but reached near record levels for the pitcher.

In just 3 2/3 innings against the Nationals, Lester surrendered a season-high nine runs and tied his high mark for earned runs with eight. Washington knocked three homers into the bleachers in Wrigley Field on Saturday in a 9-4 defeat.

The pitcher, who was 12-2 before the All-Star Break, now falls to 0-3 since July 20th with an ERA over eight.

“I mean, I don’t want to cop out anything, but I guess I’m just in a rut right now,” said Lester, who falls to 12-5 on the season as his ERA rises to 3.89. “Probably felt like some of the better stuff I’ve had over the last couple of starts and that was the outcome.”

 

Lester didn’t have much of a chance to get any momentum as Ryan Zimmerman crushed a two-run homer with two outs in the first inning to put the Nationals up 2-0. He would then get a sacrafice fly in the third to make it 3-0.

After the Cubs got a run on a sac fly of their own from Javier Baez (Now with an NL-high 89 RBI) in the third, Washington exploded in the fourth. Daniel Murphy took a Lester pitch to the opposite field for a two-run homer of his own to make it 5-1. Trea Turner’s single up the middle brought another run home before Zimmerman put it away with a three-run homer to left field that put the Nationals up 9-1 and chased Lester from the game.

The Cubs were able to push across three runs late, but the offensive highlight of the day came in the third inning when Anthony Rizzo picked up his 1,000th hit on a single to right. It took a back seat to the struggles of another one of the Cubs, who has lost his touch so far in the second half.

Not that the first baseman is worried.

“He’s our horse, we lean on him and we’re going to continue to lean on him down the stretch,” said Rizzo of Lester. “I know for a fact that we have all the confidence in the world when he goes on the mound to pitch well and get us a ‘W.'”

Even when things aren’t going so well at the moment.