CHICAGO – Early season success have given to late season struggles in a sprint of a 60-game season for one of the Cubs’ staples of the pitching staff.
Jon Lester pitched the Cubs to three victories early in the season – getting the positive decision in two of those efforts – with a strong 1.06 ERA during that stretch. Things have changed quite a bit since then, and it’s not been for the positive.
Lester has given up at least five earned runs in four of his last five starts, including five against the Cardinals in 3 1/3 innings in a loss on Sunday night to the Cardinals. It’s pushed the lefty’s ERA to 5.80 as he struggles to find consistency down the stretch as the Cubs get close to the playoffs.
He’s been ineffective over the last month, and Lester knows it as he heads into his next start Friday night as the Cubs face the Brewers at Miller Park. After his start on Sunday, the three-time World Series champion admitted that he wasn’t sure how he’d work himself out of this particular funk in 2020.
“Obviously with the shortened season everything’s magnified event more, so I don’t know where that confidence will come from,” said Lester when asked about his faith that things will turn around after a few bad starts. “You guys have seen the linescores. There’s not much confidence right there. The work we’re putting in on the side between starts obviously isn’t translating into the starts so I don’t know what that is.”
It’s rare to hear that coming for Lester, considering he’s usually found a way to keep calm even in the slumps that he’s previously had with the Cubs. If the team hopes to make a run in the playoffs, they’ll need Lester, considering that only Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks have provided consistency in the rotation this year.
Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana remain on the IL, leaving Alex Mills along with Adbert Alzolay to start a number of contests in 2020. Getting Lester out of his funk would certainly help, but that’s something he continues to work out as September continues.
“Try to take positives out of every five days but there’s not many. I pride myself on work and pitching innings and keeping my team in the ballgame. Obviously, frankly that’s not the story right now,” said Lester. “It’s very frustrating and when frustration comes in there’s not a lot of confidence. Continue to work.”