Chicago Cubs’ lefty Jon Lester talked on Friday about going up against the Washington Nationals’ lineup in Game 2 of the NLDS. Lester, the 33-year-old, 12-year veteran, takes the mound against a team that put up a .275/.331/.456 line against left-handers on the year, good for 2nd/6th/2nd across the line amongst National League teams in 2017.
Lester said he knew it wasn’t just the big names you have to be concerned about.
“It's a really, really strong lineup,” Lester told reporters.
“I was talking to [Ryan] Dempster on the way over here, and I think the thing that guys forget sometimes, especially when you're pitching against a good lineup, is just like you get through the Harpers, the Murphies and the Zimmermans and you're like, okay, I've got a break.
“And then you look up and you've got [Anthony] Rendon, [Matt] Wieters, so on, so forth.”
Wieters, in particular, has put up good numbers against the Cubs’ lefty, going 16 for 51 (.314/.357/.412) with three doubles off Lester in their respective careers.
“You just have to get back to one pitch, one out at a time, one inning at a time and really try to hone in on that and not worry about who's up and just try to work on executing your pitches and being down,” Lester said, explaining his general approach.
“Eliminating damage is a huge thing against this lineup. We all know, obviously, they can hit the ball out of the ballpark at a high rate. So keep them on the ground and give our team a chance to field them and throw them out. Sounds simple, but it's a tough lineup and you've just got to go one by one, each inning.”
Dusty Baker was asked after last night’s 3-0 loss if he thought the fact that the Nats clinched the division early and cruised to the end of the regular season had anything to do with their struggles against Kyle Hendricks in Game 1 against the Cubs. Was his team ready for the start of the postseason?
“Oh, yeah, everybody was ready,” Baker said. “But, you know, [Kyle] Hendricks had something to do with it. It wasn't a matter of them being ready. It's just a matter of, you know, he was tricking us tonight, and seemed like those kind of guys give us more trouble than guys who throw hard.”
Will the Nationals be able to tie things up and avoid falling into a 2-0 hole against the defending World Series champs?