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updated: 10/6/2017 7:35 PM

Lester hoping arrow points up in Game 2 NLDS start for Cubs

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  • Jon Lester started Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs in all three rounds of the playoffs last year. After hitting some bumps this season, Lester gets the ball in Game 2 of the National League division series Saturday vs. Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals.

    Jon Lester started Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs in all three rounds of the playoffs last year. After hitting some bumps this season, Lester gets the ball in Game 2 of the National League division series Saturday vs. Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals.
    Associated press

 
 

In the 2016 postseason, Jon Lester started Game 1 of the National League division series for the Chicago Cubs.

He started Game 1 of the NL championship series.

Lester also started Game 1 of the World Series, and the veteran left-hander was a combined 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 6 games (5 starts).

Much has changed.

After going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA in the 2016 regular season and finishing second in NL Cy Young Award voting behind Washington's Max Scherzer, the 33-year-old Lester seemed to wilt from the heavy workload.

Lester was 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA this season and he was on the disabled list from Aug. 18-Sept. 1 with shoulder soreness.

Lester was 5-1 over the final month, but he had a 4.18 ERA and gave up 6 home runs in 32⅓ innings.

"You have ups and downs and bumps along the way that you have to maintain and deal with," Lester told reporters Friday. "Obviously, this year was different. We had a different workload last year, and tried to carry that over into this year. As you get older, it doesn't quite work like it used to when it was 24, 25."

Lester, who had a 2.84 ERA and a pair of no decisions against Washington this season, opposes Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday.

Gonzalez ranked fifth in the NL with a 2.96 ERA, but he gave up 16 earned runs on 22 hits and 10 hits in 21⅓ innings over his last four starts.

Gonzalez was originally scheduled to start Game 3 for Washington, but he's been moved up a game to give ace Max Scherzer more time to recover from a tweaked hamstring.

"I was preparing myself to pitch in Chicago (on Monday)," Gonzalez said. "The situation came out, and obviously we all know the situation. As far as that, now I know when I'm pitching, so I'll kind of mix it in and it gave me a couple days to prepare myself.

"I've got to prepare myself either way, whether I'm at home or on the road. You've still got to face a good lineup."

Gonzalez started against the Cubs on June 26 at Nationals Park. He took the loss after allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 5 walks in 6 innings.

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