Jon Lester's age-32 season was arguably the best of his 10 at the big league level as he spun career bests in ERA, WHIP, and batting average against (.209). Little changed with his skill set or his approach against opposing hitters, however, as he struck batters out nearly one-quarter of the time (24.8 percent) for the third straight season and kept his walk rate (6.5 percent) a tick below his career rate (7.8 percent). Despite his ongoing refusal to throw over to first base in order to keep baserunners honest, Lester stranded 84.9 percent of the baserunners who reached against him -- a big jump from the 71.8 percent he held in his first season with the Cubs, and a noticeable spike from his career 75.3 percent mark. There is little reason to expect a full repeat of 2016, but Lester should again have plenty of run support, a good defense around him, and a bullpen capable of protecting his leads this season. That's a profile worthy of a fantasy ace, but one drafted toward the bottom of the tier.
Lester (0-1) gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits and two walks while striking out five over 5.2 innings in Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Pirates. After a strong beginning to the season, the veteran lefty's now been tagged for 10 earned runs and 19 hits over his last two outings, sending his ERA soaring to 3.68 and saddling him with a 1.43 WHIP. Lester will look to get those ratios under control in his next start at home against the Phillies on Tuesday.
Lester allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four over 5.2 innings, but received no decision Friday against the Reds. Lester was able to work out of some trouble, allowing him to fire three scoreless innings to start the game, but his inability to keep runners off base caught up with him as he was touched up for five runs over the next three frames. Despite the rough outing, this was the first time in four starts that he allowed more than a single earned run, and he'll continue to be an outstanding fantasy option as he carries a 2.66 ERA into his next start Wednesday against the Pirates.
Lester will have his next start moved up to Friday against the Reds, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The switch may be a clever attempt to avoid having Lester make a start in Boston next week, instead setting him up to face the Pirates on Wednesday. The veteran southpaw dominated Pittsburgh in his last appearance, throwing seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits. Jake Arrieta is now scheduled to make his next start Saturday.
Lester allowed three hits while walking two and striking out three over seven scoreless innings for another no-decision in Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Pirates. The veteran southpaw just can't win yet. His bullpen, mainly Koji Uehara, blew a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning to give Lester three no-decisions in as many starts. The 33-year-old has now allowed just two runs in his first three starts (18 innings) while walking five and striking out 17. The lack of strikeouts were disappointing in this one, but owners can't complain with Lester's work so far in the early going. He's clearly a fantasy ace, and the wins will come eventually.
Lester allowed one run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven over six innings and receiving no decision in Monday's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. The Chicago bullpen coughed up a late lead; otherwise, Lester would've been in line for his first win of the season. The crafty left-hander has given up just two runs while striking out 14 in his first 11 innings, once again proving why he's one of the more reliable fantasy aces around. Considering that he pitches for one of the top offensive teams in the league, wins will start coming Lester's way eventually.
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