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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.
- The Cubs finally got a World Series party at home, just as it looked like they might not only lose the World Series at Wrigley, but also be swept there.
- Teams have come back from 3-1 deficits before, and I promise that isn’t a Cleveland/Warriors reference.
- Anthony Rizzo caught a foul ball that David Ross dropped. Teamwork!
- Jim Harbaugh is pure dad, so of course he wore a glove to Game 5 of the World Series.
- After Game 4, Terry Francona couldn’t get to sleep, so he ordered $44 worth of ice cream from room service.
- Alex Rodriguez’s transformation into quality analyst isn’t his first reinvention.
- The Red Sox still haven’t informed Clay Buchholz if they’re picking up his $13.5 million option for 2017, likely because, unlike last year, they’re still figuring it out. It would be silly to not pick up the option, given the lack of pitching on the market and what it would cost, even if Buchholz just ends up being depth.
- It sounds like MLB and the MLBPA will reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, but it’s possible that this offseason will use the current rules just for ease of planning.
- The Diamondbacks might have already interviewed most of the candidates they plan to for their vacant manager job.