Jon Lester got his 50th win as a Cub.
Lester has been a rock in the rotation for the team since coming to Chicago in 2015, Lester is 50-27 with a 3.24 ERA.
Much like an aging pitcher across town in James Shields, Lester has had to redefine how he pitches as he gets older. Lester’s velocity is down, as is expected for a pitcher who is 34 and has been pitching in the league for over a decade.
This season, Lester has used his sinker at only a 5% rate, way below his career average 12% usage. He is using his changeup more, up nearly 3% to 10.4% usage versus his career 7.8%. Lester never had an overpowering fastball, but it has lost nearly 3MPH since debuting, so his secondary pitches are getting more use, and much like Shields, Lester is figuring out how to get around hitters, rather than right through hitters as he could earlier in his career. He has brought up his zSwing% to a career high, at 68.9, nearly 3% more than his career average. zSwing is a stat that is the percentage of pitches swung at that are in the strike zone.
Lester had a few at-bats early in the game that lasted longer than wanted, which made his pitch count high early. However, as the game continued he became more and more in control of the count and was able to control hitters.
Lester finished the day with 7IP 1H, 2BB, and 5K’s. He threw 104 pitches, with 65 of them being strikes. He was able to keep the ball on the ground, getting only two fly outs to the nine groundouts.
The Cubs got all the offense they needed in the first inning, scoring two runs thanks to Ben Zobrist getting an RBI groundout, and Anthony Rizzo hitting a sac fly. Leave Lester to do the rest. Outside of an Austin Meadows triple, Lester looked absolutely dominant against a Pirates lineup, in what is his third win against the Pirates this year.
Lester’s outing took some heat off a bullpen that has seen some heat recently, especially with Tyler Chatwood‘s struggles as of recent, and a shorter start by Jose Quintana in the past week. Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek were both able to come in and finish a job well done by Lester to give him his 50th win as a Cub, and his 166th win in his career.
Follow Griffin on Twitter: @G_Meadors05–Feature Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune