Chicago Cubs: Is Jon Lester finally experiencing regression?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 17: Jon Lester
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 17: Jon Lester /

Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester may finally be showing his age. He is having one of the worst seasons of his career and was just put on the 10-day disabled list.

The Chicago Cubs placed Jon Lester on the 10-day disabled list today following his start on Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds. Lester managed to record only five outs before being pulled from the game. In 1.2 innings he allowed seven hits, nine runs (seven earned), one walk and one home run against a poor Reds team.

This is actually the second time the Chicago Cubs ace has allowed nine or more runs in an inning. Back on July 9, Lester faced the Pittsburgh Pirates and failed to even record one full inning. He got two outs but gave up 10 runs (four earned) on six hits, including two home runs, and three walks.

Lester has actually been struggling for most of the year along with the Chicago Cubs team as a whole. In his 19 starts pre-All Star break, Lester posted a 4.25 ERA with 110 strikeouts in 108 innings. He also gave up 37 walks in those 108 innings and had a 1.34 WHIP for the first half.

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After the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs seemed to improve their play but Lester’s performance was still underwhelming. He’s made seven starts since the All-Star break and has posted a 4.69 ERA. Across 40.1 innings pitched, he’s allowed 24 runs (21 earned), 35 hits and 10 walks compared to 45 strikeouts.

Lester and the Chicago Cubs are used to much more success than they’ve experienced this season. Lester is a four-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion, NLCS MVP and Cy Young finalist. However, he’s also 33 years old and under contract through 2020 for $155 million remaining with a 2021 team option year available. The Cubs could be seeing what is in store for the latter portion of Lester’s career.

Or, the Chicago Cubs may see a resurgence from Lester if his struggles have been due to injury. The Cubs and Lester reported that he was feeling “left lat tightness” and the lefty is undergoing more tests and monitoring to see if there is a larger issue to treat.

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Regardless, the Chicago Cubs hold a one-game lead in the National League Central over the Milwaukee Brewers with an additional half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The NL Central is a tight race right now and Lester’s under-performance and injury could be a major factor.