Cubs SP Jon Lester has enjoyed a long and successful career before and after joining the Northsiders prior to the 2015 season. While he has not been a Cub long enough to make his mark on some of the franchise pitching leaderboards, his dependability has made him one of the top postseason starting pitchers in MLB history.
Lester’s playoff hardware includes three World Series championships (BOS – 2007; BOS – 2013; CHC – 2016) and one NLCS MVP award (shared with Cubs INF Javier Báez in 2016). He has appeared in nine postseasons (BOS – 4; OAK – 1; CHC – 4), for a total of 17 postseason series. The southpaw is 9-7 in 26 appearances (22 starts) with a 2.51 ERA, 154.0 IP and a WHIP of 1.019 in his playoff career, and his position on the postseason pitching leaderboards listed below makes it clear he has been a workhorse in the postseason.
Rank: Tied for 3rd
The top spot is occupied by Randy Johnson (2001) and Francisco Rodríguez (2002) with 5. Lester and a number of others are tied for third with 4 wins. His were earned during his 2013 championship season with Boston.
Innings Pitched (Career)
Rank: 6 (154.0)
All of the pitchers ahead of Lester are highly decorated champions and/or Hall of Famers.
Rank: 8 (133 in 154.0 IP)
The Cubs veteran lefty is ahead of Hall of Famers Randy Johnson (9th – 132 in 121.0 IP) and Greg Maddux (125 in 198.0 IP). The only active pitchers ahead of him on this leaderboard are Justin Verlander (167 in 152.1 IP) and Clayton Kershaw (165 in 152.0 IP).
Games Started (Career)
Rank: Tied for 10th (22)
While it is unlikely he will come near former Yankee Andy Pettite (44 starts, 276.2 IP), Lester has a shot to move ahead of former teammate John Lackey (23 starts, 144.0 IP) should the Cubs have a successful 2019 season. The only active pitchers ahead of Lester are Verlander and Kershaw (tied for 6th with 24 starts).
Games Started (Season)
Rank: Tied for 5th (5 in 2016 – 35.2 IP; 5 in 2013 – 34.2 IP)
Only four pitchers have started 6 postseason games in a year (Madison Bumgarner – 2014; Curt Schilling – 2001; Chris Carpenter – 2011; Corey Kluber – 2016). Bumgarner and Kluber are the only active pitchers among that number. A large number of other pitchers are tied for 5th place with 5 starts in a given postseason. The only others with multiple five-start years are Orel Hersheiser (3x); Kevin Brown (2x); Cliff Lee (2x); Andy Pettite (5x); Greg Maddux (2x); John Smoltz (2x); and Clayton Kershaw (2x). A high rank in this statistic corresponds with a team World Series appearance. Kershaw is the only other active pitcher with multiple five-start years.
WPA – Win Probability Added (Career)
Rank: 5 (3.4 – 154.0 IP)
The number-one player on this list is legendary closer and unanimous Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera (11.7 – 141.0 IP). There are no active players ranked ahead of Lester.
Here are some Jon Lester postseason highlights for your viewing pleasure.
Featured Image: Dennis Ku / Shutterstock.com
I grew up a Cubs fan in Northwest Illinois and became an avid follower of the team during the Sosa-McGwire home run chase. Now I am the #1 Cubs fan in Toronto, Canada. You can find me on Twitter @Troll_Hamels (personal) and @farnorthsider (blog).