Cubs Pitcher Jon Lester Likely To Make Batting History Vs Nationals Wednesday
The best pitching matchup in baseball on Wednesday is Washington’s Max Scherzer against the Cubs’ Jon Lester at Wrigley Field as the former aces of the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox face off for the first time as National League starters (Scherzer did begin his career with Arizona). The Nats are slight favorites but also Lester can make history at the plate — the kind he would rather not.
Lester Batting A Cool Zero
Lester has the chance to set the major-league record for most career plate appearances to begin a career without a hit. Thus far, in 64 trips to the plate, Lester is 0-for-57 with 34 strikeouts. He has had five sacrifice bunts and one RBI on a sacrifice fly. Lester also drew a walk in 2010, so even if his career average is .000, his career on-base percentage is a more respectable .017.
The man Lester is chasing is the not-quite-immortal Joey Hamilton of the mid-1990s San Diego Padres, who failed to notch a hit in his first 66 trips to the plate. But Hamilton, at least, picked up a hit in his second season and went on to post a .127 career average. He even hit four home runs along the way. Last time out Lester passed Ron Herbel for third on the list. Herbel went 63 plate appearances from Sept. 10, 1963-May 21, 1965 without a hit. He finished his career with six hits and a .029 average.
“The biggest thing we’re waiting on is the first hit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That will truly get the monkey off his back.”
Lester isn’t alone. Hank Aguirre, who pitched from 1955-70, was 33-for-388 (.085), while Bob Buhl is legendary. He posted a lifetime .089 (76-for-857) batting average in 15 seasons from 1953-67. In 1962, Buhl pitched for Cubs and Milwaukee Braves. He was 0-for-1 for Braves and 0-for-69 for Cubs, giving him the single-season record for most at-bats without a hit (0-for-70) for a non-position player.
There have been other Cubs pitchers who can’t hit. Mike Bielecki was 18-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 1989, but was 3-for-70 at the plate with 35 strikeouts. Of course, in his first at-bat in the NLCS, he hit a two-run single.
In his last six starts, on the mound, Lester has given up 10 earned runs over 40 innings for a 2.25 ERA. Compare that to April when he was charged with 15 earned runs over 21 2/3 innings. Scherzer was on his game again Friday night, allowing one run on four hits, walking one and striking out six over eight innings of a 2-1 win against the Phillies. He nudged his ERA down to 1.67 while notching his fifth win on the season. Scherzer has pitched twice against the Cubs, but not since 2012 when he was a member of the Tigers. Before that, it was 2008 when he was in Arizona. He is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA against Chicago.
Key Betting Trends
Nationals are 5-1 in their last 6 games vs. a left-handed starter.
Nationals are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning record.
Nationals are 4-1 in their last 5 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
Nationals are 4-0 in Scherzers last 4 starts as a favorite.
Nationals are 4-0 in Scherzers last 4 starts with 4 days of rest.
Nationals are 4-0 in Scherzers last 4 starts.
Cubs are 5-1 in Lesters last 6 starts.
Cubs are 4-1 in Lesters last 5 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance.
Cubs are 4-1 in Lesters last 5 home starts.
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