Game 56: The Stopper We’ve Been After (Cubs 6-4 Phillies)

It’s only two games, but there is something pretty heartening that after the Cubs lost their first two Arrieta starts in a year, Jon Lester strolled out to the mound the very next night and chloroformed the Dodgers and Phillies (though the latter isn’t much of a claim, but you can’t choose who you play and all that). It’s almost like Lester is a really good pitcher who was worth paying that much money for on the open market. But it couldn’t be that, could it?

I feel like it’s folly to try and claim that Lester has improved on last year when his current FIP and xFIP are exactly what they were last season when he was, wait for it, ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD. His walk and strikeout-rates this year are just a few points off where they were last year. The only difference is his batting average against is way lower than it was last year, mostly due to his BABIP taking a 40 point dive and his still pretty ridiculous left-on-base rate.

Sure, some of that is benefitting from the much improved defense the Cubs have over last year, but essentially Lester has been the exact same pitcher he was in 2014 with better luck. This isn’t meant to denigrate his season, but to point out that most Cubs fans missed just how good he was last year. A lot of teams would love to have a 1 and 1A in their rotation. The Cubs do, and the three guys behind them are basically pitching like 1B, 1C, and 1D.

-Justin Grimm’s burf in the 9th is probably going to start more Andrew Miller hysteria, but that’s not anything anyone needs right now. Grimm is in a bit of a blip, but he still has the best stuff in the pen and I would wager he’ll sort it out sooner rather than later. It was also his fifth appearance in the span of a week, wonder if that has anything to do with it.

-Every time I think Soler is just about to bust through for good, he either goes through a terrible week or he gets hurt. When salvation comes it’s going to feel that much sweeter.

-Every time I think Javy Danger is going to break through, he has an AB like he did in the first where he swings at three breaking balls and turns around. Salvation is going to feel that much sweeter.


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