Back in 2017 Jon Lester believed that he didn’t have the pitching results that he is accustomed to producing. He finished the 2017 season with a 13-8 mark and an unusually high 4.33 ERA and 180.2 innings pitched which amounted to his lowest total in over nine years. When Lester first joined Chicago with his first 111 starts he had a 52-27 record, 3.17 ERA and 73 quality starts.
Lester comes across as a gentle, relaxed player, but there lies an inherent desire to be the best player and win. He has a great sense of pride when playing baseball and this, along with his pitching skill, have been the catalyst for his teammates to call him “the ace.”
As a remarkable athlete, Lester is one of the most successful pitchers in the majors. Not only is he a fighter on the field, but a force to be reckoned with off the field as a husband, father and cancer survivor. Lester was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer, back in 2006 when playing with the Boston Red Sox.
Little did he know that his difficulties dealing with cancer would give him the experience to help a now fellow teammate, Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo was diagnosed with limited state classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the spring of 2008. Lester was able to give Rizzo some much-needed advice and encouraged him to never let treatments prevent him from living the life he desired. In late summer of 2008, Rizzo learns that his cancer is in remission.
Lester went through six chemotherapy treatments before being declared cancer-free. He survived cancer by doing the little things he loved hung out with his parents and friends, hunted deer and elk, and of course playing the game he loves most. His experience enabled him to help Rizzo, and because of their bond Rizzo is a big reason why Lester decided to join the Cubs.
A memorable moment that most fans might recall of the two players is during the game against the San Diego Padres the ball is hit straight to Lester and gets caught in his mitt. Acting natural, Lester tosses the glove to Anthony Rizzo for the out at first. It was as though they had both watched the same scenario that happened to Terry Mulholland, pitcher for the Giants, they were so in sync with one another.
Despite his health problems, Lester has an undeniable ability to focus on each game and lift the team with his pitching ability. Many consider him to be the most successful free-agent acquisition made by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
When Lester signed with the Cubs he transformed the atmosphere in the clubhouse and simultaneously gave the recognition that the Cubs were frontrunners in the game. Outside his .658 winning percentage, he has given a boost of confidence to every player and motivates the team, the management and the fans to believe the Cubs will win a World Series title every year.
After playing with the Cubs for three seasons the club has participated in the National League Championship Series each year and broke the curse of all curses when earning the long-awaited World Series title in 2016.
Along with being awarded the National League’s Pitcher of the Month award for June, Lester has earned three World Series rings, a league championship series MVP award, a career 9-7 postseason record with a 2.55 ERA, along with another three and a half years remaining on his $155 million contract motivate the Cubs and enable them to win another World Series or two.