Jon Lester is headed to his 5th career All-Star appearance next week, but he probably won’t see any game action.
The Cubs changed up their starting rotation, announcing the move Wednesday afternoon that Lester and Kyle Hendricks would swap turns:
Chatwood, Hendricks and Lester vs. SD
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) July 11, 2018
So that’s Tyler Chatwood Friday, Hendricks Saturday and Lester Sunday. By having Lester start Sunday, it essentially rules out the veteran from facing American League hitters in D.C. next Tuesday.
Thursday’s off-day allows the Cubs to throw either Hendricks or Lester on regular rest Saturday.
The Cubs probably made the move to prioritize rest for the 34-year-old pitcher with more than 2,400 big-league innings on his resume including the postseason.
Lester’s been to the All-Star Game before and pitched in the Midsummer Classic. Not appearing in the actual game this year does nothing to diminish the honor of being voted onto the NL squad by his peers.
Due to odd MLB scheduling, the Cubs no longer have 4 days off for the All-Star Game and instead will have a quickturnaround, hosting the St. Louis Cardinals for a 5-game series beginning Thursday, July 19. (The two teams also play a doubleheader Saturday, July 21.)
Lester and the Cubs are eyeing another run into late October and rest has been a huge talking point for the club all season. After three straight National League Championship appearances, Lester doesn’t need any more stress on his arm/body, especially in an exhibition game.
Lester has admitted throughout this season that he feels like a different pitcher now than he was even a year or two ago. All that wear and tear has changed the way he pitches, as he’s now more focused on trying to pitch to contact rather than striking guys out.
If the Cubs are going to take home a second championship in the last 110 years, they’re gonna need Lester to be healthy and fresh for the stretch run and into October.