Washington has found their fourth starter.
Entering the off-season, one of Washington’s biggest needs was a fourth starter. Anibal Sanchez held down that role for the last two years, but after his disastrous 2020 campaign, it was time to move on. Enter Jon Lester. Earlier tonight, the three-time World Series champion signed a one year deal with Washington.
Lester, 37, is on the back end of his career and hasn’t been his lights-out self since 2018. Last season, he went 3-3, with a 5.16 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and a 5.14 FIP. But in 2018, he finished ninth in NL Cy Young voting, going 18-6, with a 3.32 ERA, 149 strikeouts, and a 4.39 FIP. Since entering the league in 2006, Lester has been one of the most underrated pitchers in the league.
Washington’s in house options for the fourth starter role was Erick Fedde and Austin Voth. Both have shown small flashes of excellence in their career, but have yet to run away with the role. To make matters worse, both struggle to go deep into games. Lester on the other hand is known for being an innings eater. Since 2008 and not counting the shortened 2020 season, Lester has thrown under 180 innings in a season only once (2019, 171.2).
Lester will join the Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick, Corbin, and assumedly Joe Ross in a Nationals rotation that struggled in 2020. A full spring training should see the rotation return to their former glory.
This will be a reunion of sorts for Lester, who will be reunited with Dave Martinez. Now Washington’s manager, Martinez was the Cubs bench coach from 2015-2017. Earlier in the off-season, Washington also signed Lester’s former Cubs teammate Kyle Schwarber to a one year deal. The two played together in Chicago from 2015-2019. The front office is hoping both players will bounce back with a change of scenery. While he is no longer the ace he once was, the Lester addition provides the team with another established starter, who brings plenty of playoff experience.