Gregor: Lester, a standout Cubs starter for 6 seasons, calls it a career

  • Jon Lester, who announced his retirement Wednesday, pitched for the Cubs six seasons and helped lead them to the playoffs five times, including 2016 when they won the World Series.

    Jon Lester, who announced his retirement Wednesday, pitched for the Cubs six seasons and helped lead them to the playoffs five times, including 2016 when they won the World Series. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/12/2022 6:21 PM

He pitched for the Nationals and rival Cardinals last season, but Jon Lester will always be remembered for his stellar stay with the Cubs.

The bulldog left-hander arrived in 2015 on a six-year, $155 million contract and promptly led the Cubs to a run of five playoff appearances in six seasons. The most memorable one came in 2016, when Lester helped bring the World Series trophy to Wrigley Field after going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA during the regular season.

 

On Wednesday, ESPN reported Lester is retiring after a 16-year career that started with the Red Sox in 2006.

"It's kind of run its course," the 38-year-old Lester said. "It's getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance. I'd like to think I'm a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don't want someone else telling me I can't do this anymore.

"I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, 'Thank you, it's been fun.' That's probably the biggest deciding factor."

Lester could have pitched his seventh season with the Cubs last year, but there was no chance his $25 million club option was going to be picked up.

A free agent after receiving a $10 million buyout from the Cubs, Lester signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Washington.

After going 3-5 with a 5.02 ERA in 16 starts with the Nationals, he was traded to the Cardinals and was 4-1 with a 4.36 ERA over 12 starts.

During his stay with the Cubs, Lester was 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA. He is the franchise leader with 10 postseason starts and 70 innings pitched.

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In addition to 2016 with the Cubs, Lester won two World Series rings with the Red Sox.

After leaving the Cubs following the 2020 season, Lester offered to buy fans Miller Lite beers at select establishments in Chicago.

He wasn't surprised when the tab came in at $47,000.

"I realized that Chicago likes beer, so that's good," Lester said. "I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be fun, I knew we were going to have a good time with it. I wish I could have been there to be a part of it."

Lester is in line for Hall of Fame consideration after going 200-117 with a 3.55 ERA and making five All-Star Games.

He was a force in the postseason at 9-7 with a 2.51 ERA in 26 games (22 starts).

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