Chicago Cubs: A review of the 2015 season

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Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs sign Jon Lester

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did a great job of going against the grain. Teams around the league were drafting as much pitching as possible, but the Cubs decided to go with offense.

The philosophy was to get as much offense as possible. When those bats got to the major league level, then the Cubs would go after veteran pitching.

In the winter, there were several big name pitchers who were available through free agency, such as Max Scherzer and James Shields.

There was also a pitcher named Jon Lester.

Shields was a good second-level option, but the Cubs needed to go after a top-level leader.

That left the Cubs with the option of getting either Scherzer or Lester.

Scherzer was not really an option, since his agent, Scott Boras, asking price was over the moon. Only one or two teams would consider him, and the Cubs were not one of them.

That left Lester being targeted by a number of teams. The San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and the Cubs all went after him.

In the end, the Cubs came away victorious, signing Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract.

Lester had the postseason pedigree that the Cubs were looking for. He helped the Red Sox win two championships during his time there. He would be a great leader not only for the pitching staff, but also for the rest of the young Cubs.

At first glance, the 11-12 record may seem like Lester had a bad season. That was far from the truth.

He had an injury in spring that prevented him from playing in any games or practicing much. He was the Opening Day starter, but the early months of the season were his Spring Training.

As late as June 9th, Lester had a 4.25 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. His BAbip was .347, so he was getting hit pretty well.

Then he got everything together.

The rest of the way, his ERA was 2.84 and his WHIP was .095, while his BAbip was .280. He also had some big wins that kept the Cubs’ momentum going, or kept the team from going on an extended losing streak.

Lester was also big in helping the young Cubs deal with facing what they would deal with in a playoff chase. He’s been there, and done that, so he used his experience to help them.

Lester set the tone with his teammates after Anthony Rizzo predicted a National League Central division title.

“It’s obviously a bold statement,” Lester said. “I stand by my teammate. (But) I don’t think the end-all goal is the division. It’s always nice to win the division. It’s always nice to be in the playoffs. But obviously the end-all goal for everybody in that clubhouse, I would imagine, would be the World Series.”

It did not happen this season, but with Lester, the Cubs are on the right track.

Next: The Cubs get a table setter for the offense