From Comcast SportsNetNEWPORT, R.I. (AP) -- Jennifer Capriati has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame after an up-and-down career that saw her go from teen prodigy status to off-court troubles to Grand Slam champion.Capriati won the Australian Open in 2001 and 2002, and the French Open in 2001, along with a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, and she reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings.At age 14, she reached the 1990 French Open semifinals. Capriati was arrested in 1993 for shoplifting at a Florida mall, and again the next year for marijuana possession. She also spent more than a week in drug rehabilitation in 1994.Capriati, the 2001 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, retired in 2004 with a career record of 430-176, including 14 singles titles.
Mark Carman, Scott Merkin and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel. Jon Lester looks to get back on track against the Pirates? Should he still be the Cubs Game 1 starter in the playoffs? Len Kasper joins Kap to discuss.
How much will Mitch Trubisky improve in his 2nd preseason game? And will Carlos Rodon end up being the White Sox’ best starter?
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It's been a tale of two halves for the Cubs veteran Jon Lester, who after a sparkling first half of baseball that saw him win 12 games with a 2.58 ERA, has looked nothing like a 2018 All-Star. Prior to Thursday's start, Lester had posted a 10.32 ERA, allowed 4 or more runs in 4 of his 5 most recent starts, and had yet to win a game in the second of the season.
The 34-year-old veteran flipped the script Thursday night, throwing 6-shutout innings while striking out 8 Pirate batters in the Cubs 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Lester surrendered only 5 hits and baffled the Pirates all-night, finally busting out of his slump and giving the Cubs his 2nd quality start since the All-Star break.
Lester attacked the bottom portion of the strike zone all night with his fastball, which topped out at 93 mph, generating 4 whiffs with his heater. Over the last month, Lester has said he's felt he can't quite execute his "out" pitches, explaining that when he has a hitter set up for a strikeout he hasn't been able to throw the ball effectively in those moments.
And while Lester walked off the mound after the 6th inning amassing 8 punch outs, the veteran starter never looked like he was trying to strike out batters. He just continued to dot the corners, occasionally raise the eye-level of the batter with an elevated heater, and threw his secondary pitches just enough to keep the Pittsburgh batters uncomfortable at the plate.
Jon Lester, 90mph Fastball and 76mph Curveball, Overlay/Slow. pic.twitter.com/73l8okW4Ou— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 16, 2018
The Cubs offense once again struggled, facing Ivan Nova who has won four his last five starts against the Cubs, but Ian Happ's solo shot in the 4th inning was enough run support for Lester to push the Cubs to 20 games over .500. But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's win isn't that the Cubs came out on top, it's that Jon Lester returning to form gives this Chicago rotation something they've lacked seemingly this entire season.
Stability at the front of the rotation.
With Cole Hamels impressive three starts in a Cub uniform and Kyle Hendricks finally figuring out his issues on the mound, if Jon Lester can replicate Thursday's performance throughout the rest of the season, the Cubs rotation may finally turn into the strength many thought it could be before the season started. At the very least, Lester showed that whatever he's been working through over the last month of baseball is fixable.
It's only one start in a string of poor outings for Lester, and while The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma did find some positives in his starts prior to Thursday's big win, Lester will have to show he can maintain this level of pitching through the remainder of this season. But I think our own Tony Andracki put it best tonight on Twitter.
The Cubs could've scored 20 runs tonight and it still would not have been as encouraging for the future of this 2018 team as Jon Lester's stellar outing.— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) August 17, 2018
With the Cubs pitchers finally starting to perform to their expected level, and the return of Yu Darvish looking closer each day, it could be the Cubs starting pitching that carries through the rest of the season.