The Chicago Cubs‘s luck may be turning around in 2015. After years of losing good players to teams with a lot of money and a chance to win a World Series, players are now looking to join the Cubs. There was one pitcher who dominated the 2014 season on his way to signing a six-year, $155 million deal, and his name is Jon Lester.
As the ace of the Cubs pitching staff, can Lester live up to the projections or will he be another bust?
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Inconsistency plagued Lester’s career early on. He had low strikeout rates and mediocre control of his pitches. He had a 10.0 and 9.7 K/9 percentage in 2009 and 2010, respectively. That tanked the following three seasons. His K/9 rate from 2011 to 2013 was 8.5, 7.3 and 7.5. He also had the highest ERA of his career during this time. He had a 4.82 ERA in 2012.
Lester was able to turn all of that around in 2014. Between his time with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, he posted a 16-11 record with a 2.46 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 220 strikeouts (most since 2010) and a 9.0 K/9. Lester also improved on his BB/9, recording a career-low in 2014, 2.0 walks per nine innings.
If Lester can remain healthy, he has a really good chance to record his eighth-straight season with at least 31 starts. With that many starts, Lester can provide fantasy owners with good numbers throughout the season.
Lester joins a Cubs staff that had just one starting pitcher with over a 9.0 K/9, Jake Arrieta. He also enters the National League, the league without a designated hitter, which should help his WHIP. Wrigley Field was somewhat homer-friendly to right-hand hitters, but not enough to affect Lester’s ERA. All of these stats help Lester’s projections entering the 2015 season.
Lester’s value is around the latter half of the first 10 rounds. He fits well in the SP2 role. Passing on top guys like Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale and waiting for Lester will be your best move. He has all the tools to move up to become a top-10 starting pitcher.
Projections: 14-8, 3.17 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 192 strikeouts. Draft in Round 7.