The Nats opened up a 4 game series against the Cubs on Monday night, unfortunately losing 7-3 despite a fantastic 4th inning home run from Kyle Schwarber in his return to Wrigley Field. The offense showed some signs of hope in the 8th inning, but those were sadly quashed thanks to a crazy hit-saving dive by Nico Hoerner that robbed Starlin Castro of a few RBIs with the bases loaded.
Jon Lester made an emotional return to Wrigley Field last night for his first game in Chicago since leaving the team this offseason, putting up the following line:
L (0-2), 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, 3 HR, 3.80 ERA
The Bad News:
The real bad news here is that Nats fans have already jumped ship on Jon Lester. Twitter was absolutely flaming with hot takes once again, with people calling for his head.
Let’s not panic here. For all his struggles last night, Lester still showed decent command, and almost all the damage done against him was from former teammates. It’s not really a surprise that the likes of Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, and Javier Baez were knocking hits against the man. After all, they were his teammates for close to five years, and Contreras was Lester’s battery-mate. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch at all to think that Lester’s struggles today came as a result of too much familiarity from the batters he was facing. After all, they’re still his friends. Add in the fact that Lester was obviously emotional in his first return to Chicago after 6 years with the team; one can conclude that the outing was probably not going to be fun.
The Good News:
The best news I have to offer Nats fans is that it’s only the first game of the series. Kyle Schwarber looked energized in his return to Wrigley, and Josh Bell is still on a hot streak.
Lester will most likely be fine. As I stated earlier, his command was decent, and his emotions were definitely getting the best of him as he faced off with his former teammates. Serving up a few too many fastballs over the plate against people you know well might end with hits in the seats. Lester has still been more than serviceable, and if it wasn’t for the game-saving dive by Nico Hoerner in the 8th, the Nats may have been in a better position to win. But just keep in mind, it is not the time to jump ship on Jon Lester. I don’t think this bad performance will repeat itself.
The Nats come on again at 7:40 PM tomorrow night, with Patrick Corbin once again appearing on the mound. This will be his first start since his 7 inning, 1 run gem last Thursday (I went to that game!), which was followed by a trip to the delivery room to be there for the birth of his son. Hopefully the new dad power can continue for Corbin, who will seek to help the Nats get back into a groove. Time to try again.