Good news, bad news: Jon Lester picks up where he left off for Cubs

Good news, bad news: Jon Lester picks up where he left off for Cubs

The last time we saw Jon Lester in a Cubs uniform, he was motioning to the third-base dugout at Wrigley Field for the trainer.

Lester walked off the mound on Aug. 17 after only five outs, surrendering nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits and a walk to the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs ace was put on the disabled list the next day with a strained lat/left shoulder. 

He returned the field Saturday for the first time since that outing and he picked up where he left off, though the end result was a mixed bag.

The good news: Lester threw 92 pitches, his velocity was normal and he reported no discomfort afterwards. He also picked up his ninth win of the season.

The bad news: He gave up eight hits — including three homers — and four runs in five innings, raising his season ERA to 4.46 and WHIP to 1.29.

But of course, the Cubs won the game 14-12 and Lester's health is the most important footnote beyond that, so generally speaking, good news won in a landslide in Cubdom.

All said and done, this is the best case scenario after Lester beckoned to the Cubs trainer two weeks ago.

"Physically, felt good," Lester said. "Felt fine. No restrictions. Told our trainer — he asked about limitations and all that stuff and I was basically like, 'Hey, we're gonna find out in the first inning whether or not I'm gonna blow out or we're gonna keep riding this through.'

"Found out that everything's fine. Felt good, the ball was coming out pretty well. Maybe a couple pitch selections back, but we won the game, so we're all good. Moving in the right direction."

Before anybody freaks out, Lester confirmed he was kidding about the conversation with the trainer. He was never actually worried about his arm blowing out.

"No [question in my mind]. I wouldn't go out there if there was," Lester said. "I was more or less just kidding around with [the trainer]. First and foremost, we're kind of our own teams at times. I'm not gonna jeopardize my shoulder if it's not right.

"We're all hardheaded and badasses, but at the same time, I'm not gonna run out there and jeopardize anythig. I was just trying to make light of the situation with him. Everything felt good. It was good to get back out there."

The Cubs have now won six games in a row and a season-high 15 games over .500. They will wake up Sunday morning at least 3.5 games up on the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and seven games up on the St. Louis Cardinals, who dropped a heartbreaker in San Francisco Saturday afternoon.

The boost of Lester's return also allows the Cubs to roll with six starters for at least one turn through the rotation as the postseason draws near.

"It was great. Absolutely great," Maddon said of Lester's return. "It wasn't perfect today in any way. The home runs just popped up, but that's just a matter of him locating the ball better, which I think will happen as he gets back in there.

"But stuff-wise, it was really, really good physically. Fastball, cutter break, changeup. He just wasn't locating and then that last inning, everything came together. I talked to him in the dugout after the fourth and he said, "I. Feel. Great.' So I said, "OK, you're going back out there for the fifth.'"

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs


Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below:

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs' biggest needs this offseason


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs' biggest needs this offseason

Mark Grote (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report) and Jordan Bernfield join Leila Rahimi on the panel. The Cubs’ season is over, so what’s next for the North Siders? Do they need to deal a position player on the Major League roster to get themselves back in the World Series?

That plus the panel discusses if Mitch Trubisky will throw the ball more against the Panthers and whether Lonzo Ball is in for a rough rookie season thanks to his dad.