Jon Lester's Performance Continues Eroding

Lester has an 8.51 ERA in his last five starts.

Bruce Levine
August 23, 2019 - 6:16 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- While the Cubs were routed 9-3 by the Nationals at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon and dropped into a tie for the NL Central lead at game's end, the bigger issue is the viability of veteran left-hander Jon Lester.

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Continuing his recent trend of struggling, Lester lasted just 4 1/3 innings and allowed six runs, all earned, on nine hits while walking one and striking out two. Lester has posted an 8.51 ERA in five starts in August and now carries a 4.49 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 25 starts this season.

Lester hasn't posted numbers like that since recording a 4.82 ERA in 2012. Always his own harshest critic, Lester on Friday didn't pull any punches in his self-assessment.

"We are getting to the points where we can't just isolate these games," Lester said of his erratic season. "I don't feel like the stuff was much different from the last one (when he threw six shutout innings). We had different results. That is the (bad ) part of this game. My job is kind of results-driven, so it doesn't matter how I feel or what the game plan was. You have to execute and get people out. Tomorrow I will wake up and start a new day."

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Like anyone who has been so successful for so long, Lester has bounced back well from bad stretches before. The question now is weather it's a matter of a few simple adjustments to regain his good form or if there are bigger issues.

Stuff-wise, manager Joe Maddon still likes what he has seen.

"I look at the gun and the numbers for him are about the same," Maddon said. "The velocity is right there the cutter is the same. There were some really gratuitous knocks early. They did square him up toward the end. We were a little bit unlucky with him today. He wasn't that bad other than that last inning when they squared him up."

Lester is in the fifth season of a six-year, $155-million deal that he signed with the Cubs in December 2014. Over the first four years of his contract, he was a rock and often the ace of the staff, just as the Cubs hoped. 

Now he's looking to rediscover his rhythm.

"Joe always tells us to win hard and lose hard (then flush it)," Lester said. "But losing for me is harder than that. Sucking as a pitcher is even harder than that. It is my job to do better. Right now I am not. We let a five-game win streak go down because I didn't throw the ball very well."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.