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Postseason Jon Lester is tough to beat

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball dives into Jon Lester’s playoff record, the Cubs’ Game 5 win, and the CBA negotiations.

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World Series - Cleveland Indians v Chicago Cubs - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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Game 5 of the 2016 World Series was not the first important postseason game of Jon Lester’s career. Neither was Game 1. Lester has been a successful postseason pitcher for nearly a decade now, as his first taste of the World Series came in 2007, where, following his recovery from cancer, Lester made his first-ever World Series start in Game 4 to finish off a Red Sox sweep of the Rockies. Lester wasn’t at his very best that night, but he held Colorado scoreless for 5-2/3, and he’s been tough to stop since.

Lester’s postseason ERA as a starter is 2.55, and that’s over 19 starts and 127 innings. He’s two-thirds of the way through adding an extra season to his career, basically, and it’s been a tremendous one. The lone dud isn’t even entirely his fault, as Lester was the A’s starter during that ridiculous AL Wild Card Game against the Royals where suddenly, Oakland couldn’t do anything right or stop Kansas City. There have been a few four-run games, too, but as you can tell from the ERA, there are far, far more nights like Sunday, where Lester kept the opposition in check and pitched long enough to get to the better parts of the bullpen.

What Lester hasn’t done is come into a game in relief in Game 7 of the World Series a few days after his last start. He only threw 90 pitches in Game 5, so it’s possible he’ll get his chance to pull a Bumgarner so long as his teammates can take Game 6 in Cleveland. Lester is one of the Cubs’ best pitchers, if not their best pitcher, and he’ll have all offseason to rest after Game 7 — given that game, if it goes down, will be started by Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs’ reluctance to let him pitch deep into games, an all-hands scenario is even more likely than usual. Chicago just has to get Lester that opportunity first.