Since 2015, it’s safe to say that Jon Lester has been the ace of the Chicago Cubs pitching staff. He’s been our opening day guy, and he started game 1 of the World Series. With respect to Jake Arrieta, Lester has always been looked at as the #1 pitcher on this roster and an experienced leader with championship pedigree.
The pitching staff heading into this season looks the best it has since 2016, when Lester posted a pristine 2.44 ERA. But it isn’t 2016 anymore, two years later (and two years further removed from his prime) Jon Lester is 34 and coming off of a season where he put up a 4.33 ERA, his worst since 2012. Amongst a starting rotation filled with studs, will Jon Lester be able to return to his dominant form and continue to be this team’s ace? The Cubs are counting on it.
Hendricks has never really appreciated the spotlight, Yu Darvish is new, and Quintana is relatively new. So it would be a big luxury for the Cubs if Jon could do enough to stay ahead of these guys as the ace. But after his shaky 2017, it may not be surprising to see Joe Maddon shuffle the rotation and make any of the three other guys the #1 starter.
The bottom line is that Jon Lester should still be able to lead this club because 2018 will be different than 2017. Lester won’t need to overextend himself as much as he did last year because the starting pitching and bullpen going into 2018 look like they’re capable of shouldering much more of the load than the pitching staff last year. Barring any injuries in 2018, the Northside just might witness a renaissance of our skipper #34 this summer.