Washington National left-hander Jon Lester was activated from the COVID-19 list on Friday, clearing the way for him to make his season and team debut on Friday against the Miami Marlins. Lester had been out all season, so this marked his Nationals debut and his first start for any team since before signing his franchise-changing contract with the Cubs in December 2014.
There was definitely a Cubs angle in this 2-1, 10-inning Nationals win as well. Let’s talk to the jug first.
Lester worked his game in a familiar way and peppered the corners with his four-nail fastball and cutter, and rarely did he get much of the plate. His game these days does not lack bats. He goes out there and tries to evoke contact, preferably weak, and let his defense help him. It worked well on Friday. Although he allowed five hits on five innings with two walks and only one strike, he did not allow a run. He kept the ball down so he could record nine outs on groundballs.
Now he also got some lineouts and was lucky that some really hard hit balls were right by well-placed defenders. With how Lester pitches these days, it’s just the way it will go sometimes. In 12 starts last year for the Cubs, he had a 5.16 ERA, and the year before, he led the NL in allowed hits.
Friday was still a good reminder that Lester still has enough to get through some pointless frames and keep his team in the game when the offense fights.
Partly because Lester did, the Nationals went to extra innings in a 0-0 draw. The Marlins ran over into the top half. Lester’s former Cubs and current teammate from Nationals Kyle Schwarber stepped onto the record with the tie-in race at base. And he pulled the heroics off with a home run:
This is Schwarber’s second walkoff homer of the year. The previous one also came on a Friday where the score was 0-0 through nine innings. Funny weirdness there, right?
The Nationals have now won two straight games to move their record to 10-12 after a 1-5 start.