Washington Nationals: Jon Lester has effectively earned this label

Starting pitcher Jon Lester #34 of the Washington Nationals head down walks back to the dugout after he was taken out of the game against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the third inning at Oracle Park on July 10, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Jon Lester #34 of the Washington Nationals head down walks back to the dugout after he was taken out of the game against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the third inning at Oracle Park on July 10, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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As the year has gone on, the leash on Washington Nationals pitcher Jon Lester has gotten shorter and shorter. For good reason, too. Right now Lester is scuffling. A shell of his former self. A pitcher who at age 37, is showing his age.

We made a case for Lester to be signed in the offseason, and when he was inked for the meager sum of $5M, we applauded General Manager Mike Rizzo. Lester pitched five shutout innings in his debut. Later in the season he had a stretch of five straight starts where he allowed two earned runs or less.

He wasn’t being rewarded in the win column, though he was holding his own. Signed to hold down the end of the rotation for the Nationals as well as be an innings eater, he was more of the former than latter.

Nonetheless, when he spun six innings of two run ball against the New York Mets to earn his first victory in a Nationals uniform, our hopes were he was on to something and this game was a sign of things to come.

John Lester’s pitching has been atrocious since that win over the Mets.

Nationals pitcher Jon Lester has become a third time through the order guy.

In the four games since his first win, Lester has made it past the fourth inning only once, and he gave up five runs in that game, only to be left in because the Nationals were coasting against the Tampa Bay Rays.

More. Lester ties all time greats in win column. light

As those games have unfolded, it is clear, Jon Lester has become a pitcher who can’t face the opposing hitters a third time through the lineup. Entering his most recent shelling at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, batters were hitting .317 off him when they faced him for the third time. The third at bat in a game against Lester, garnishes opposing hitters an OPS of 1.036.

Remember how the Nationals treated Jeremy Hellickson, giving him the hook as soon as the order turned over twice. Jon Lester has become that guy. Manager Davey Martinez doesn’t trust him to get through the order a third time, because in recent outings, he can’t even get to the third time through the order.

What was once a beautiful relationship has turned sour, and as much as we hate to say it, Lester has become a liability. With half the season in the books, and the Nationals hanging on for dear life, they will have to upgrade Lester’s spot in the rotation if they want to make a late season push.

Next. We've reached a low point of the season. dark

The end is near, I just hope it is an amicable break up.

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