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The Washington Nationals have signed free agent pitcher Jon Lester.
With the 2021 MLB season inching closer, several teams are trying to make moves in preparation for the new year. The Washington Nationals made a big addition to their starting rotation on Monday, when they agreed to a one-year deal with former Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester.
Lester was part of the historic 2016 World Series team in Chicago and had been a staple of their rotation in a six-year run with the team. Now he’ll join a force that includes Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. It’s a big upgrade to their rotation that found themselves in the World Series just a couple of years ago.
And for Lester, he even gets to reunite with a familiar face in former Cubs teammate Kyle Schwarber. It was a bittersweet ending to his tenure at Wrigley Field, yielding a 3-3 record on the shortened 2020 season. His 5.16 ERA was definitely not reflective of his usual performances, as he produced a more productive 1.06 ERA over his final four starts. Unfortunately, it ended with the Cubs getting swept by the Marlins in two games where he didn’t see a start.
Lester is no stranger to success, after having championship runs in Boston and Chicago. Now he’ll start the next chapter of a storied career in Washington. He’ll likely drop into the fourth spot in the rotation, behind Scherzer, Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, as he looks to help the Nationals take control of the NL East.
This signing is mostly about adding insurance to that rotation. While it’s initially just a one-year rental for the Nationals, he bolsters down the middle of the rotation. If Scherzer and Strasburg can stay healthy, which has been a task over the last couple of seasons, then they could be a very tough force to deal with.
It will be a proving season for the 37-year old starter. No, you won’t see him light up the radar gun with triple-digit speeds, but he has more than enough weapons in his pitching arsenal to be as effective as possible.
He is a no-doubt Hall of Fame candidate, but still has some work to do before he gets enshrined in history. And you can bet he’ll make every second count as he looks ahead to the new year.