The Rundown: Lester Shuts Down Pirates, Magic Number Now 4, Bryant Suffers Oblique Injury, A’s Clinch AL West

How confident would you be if Jon Lester took the mound in his next start against the White Sox with a chance to clinch the division? Hopefully it won’t come to that, but after last night’s 5-0 win over the Pirates, Lester has suddenly emerged as the team’s hottest pitcher just as the season winds to its close.

The crafty left-hander isn’t going to get you 7-8 strikeouts anymore except on rare occasions, but he has mastered the art of pitching to contact and proved last night that he can be just as effective keeping hitters off balance as he was when he was punching out 180-220 batters season after season. Lester has allowed just two earned runs in his last 17 innings pitched and, even better, he has helped himself considerably by not putting guys on base.

He’s allowed 11 hits and just 4 walks during those outings, a nifty 0.88 WHIP for a guy who has been in the 1.2 -1.4 range for most of his Cubs career.

At this point, Lester has to be considered for a spot in the playoff rotation, especially in the first round where he give David Ross a lefty to counterbalance to Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. Does Big Jon still have what it takes to start and win a decisive Game 3 at Wrigley Field against the Reds, Cardinals, or Phillies?

One thing is certain, and that’s that Lester always comes up big in meaningful games. Ross will have to have to have confidence in his bullpen, though, because odds are against a complete game when the veteran lefty starts. That said, Lester should give the Cubs a chance to win through six innings at the very least.

He’s likely to pitch like every start is the last of his career, so expect him to be nails every time out in the playoffs. The way this season is playing out, each game he starts going forward should be a big game.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

The first horseman of the Apocalypse?

How About That!

The A’s clinched the AL West last night, the first time they’ve won the division since 2013.

The Cardinals lost 4-1 to the Royals last night, and with a big five-game series against the Brewers coming up, really took a hit to their playoff chances.

The Yankees have allowed 10+ runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 25-26, 2019 vs. the Red Sox.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo says closer Ken Giles will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun and Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu were named MLB Players of the Week.

Red Sox rookie Bobby Dalbec is starting to draw comparisons to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.

The Indians’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to one.

Mets starter Jacob deGrom may have solidified his chances to win a third straight Cy Young award.

The Mariners had played 53 games with 53 different lineups, until last night.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Jacob deGrom – 14 Ks in seven innings of work, allowing just two earned runs on four hits, give him the late lead in the Cy Young race. He still took the loss, however, because he pitches for the Mets.
  2. Alejandro Kirk – Not sure if the Blue Jays rookie catcher has a nickname yet, but I’ll call him Captain for now. The Captain had a four-hit game with a home run yesterday, the first of his career, and scored three times as the Blue Jays battered the Yankees 11-5.
  3. Jon Lester – He never disappoints when starting a big game, does he?

Extra Innings

Queue the lazy, obligatory, and overplayed “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

They Said It

  • “[Bryant] has just been dealing with a lot this year. Injury-wise, trying to get going, not at 100 percent, you give him a little bit of a break and it seems like something else crops up. Yeah, it’s a frustrating situation for him. I know he wants to be out there and play. Hopefully, we get some good news and he feels OK tomorrow and it’s not something really serious.” – David Ross
  • “The name says it all, ‘Kris Bryant.’ This guy is one heckuva player. Whenever he’s in the lineup and he’s up at the plate, I think we all think something good is going to happen.” – Kyle Schwarber

Tuesday Walk Up Song

My Rifle, My Pony & Me by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson –  Worth inclusion here just because it’s the best scene in Rio Bravo but also in honor of Census Cowboy making 2020 just a bit more weird.

Back to top button