When the St Louis Cardinals acquired Jon Lester, they hoped he could provide quality innings. That hasn’t been the case so far.
The St. Louis Cardinals added left-hander Jon Lester at the trade deadline hoping that the veteran would eat innings. The primary question after the trade was made, however, was whether those would actually be quality innings.
So far, the results have not been promising. And after Lester allowed five runs against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, marking the second straight appearance allowing as many runs, the questions surrounding the trade have only grown louder. The Cardinals, however, are taking a more optimistic view — and believe that Lester has pitched better than his results.
“I thought he was pretty darn good actually,” manager Mike Shildt said, via Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The sinker was his best pitch. His breaking pitches, changes, curveball, were a little inconsistent but he had a good sinker, competed well. … He’s shown more than being capable of being able to help us out, no question about it.”
The good news for the Cardinals is that they did not give up much to acquire Lester, parting with outfielder Lane Thomas who appeared to be a strong candidate to be designated for assignment. It’s not like they are tied to Lester, 37, for multiple seasons — he’s a free agent at the end of the year — and are likely to let him depart in free agency.
But the Cardinals need results now. They are in a do or die situation, with their playoff odds just over one percent, and need Lester and the other pitchers to pitch meaningful innings. That has not been the case so far for either Lester or J.A. Happ, who have struggled in their three combined starts, with the Cardinals falling to over 10 games back in the National League East.
Perhaps Lester turns it around. Perhaps he is bumped from the rotation when Jack Flaherty returns. Either way, the results are not good enough right now — and it may ultimately seal the Cardinals’ fate this season.