Jon Lester Should Have Madison Bumgarner’s Reputation

Last night, Jon Lester took the mound for the Cubs, and for most of the game, the conversation was about he can’t do: hold runners on. The Dodgers danced and pranced off first base, taking leads they wouldn’t take against any pitcher, and daring him to throw over to first base. But you know what the Dodgers didn’t do against Jon Lester? Score runs.

Okay, fine, they got one, but for most of the night, Lester just shut the Dodgers offense down. Because that’s just what he does in October.

You know about Madison Bumgarner’s postseason dominance by now; that’s a well-told story at this point. So, just for fun, here’s a table of some numbers that might surprise you.

Lester and Bumgarner, Postseason
Postseason IP BB% K% HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA- FIP- xFIP-
Lester 119 6% 21% 0.9 0.248 83% 60 86 94
Bumgarner 102 5% 22% 0.7 0.236 84% 57 85 93

Lester has been basically identical to Bumgarner in the postseason, once you account for the league and run environment differences of their postseason opportunities. Even their underlying numbers are almost identical across the board. Lester, though, has now been this dominant in 17 extra playoff innings, so you could argue that his October resume is actually even more impressive.

For all the talk about the Giants ace as the dominant postseason hurler of his time, Lester is in that conversation ,too. And after another great outing last night, he’s one of the big reasons the Cubs are now one win away from the World Series.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted

As an A’s fan, there will always be a special burning hatred in my heart for Lester and Derek Norris.


Hate your front office for that one. They didn’t do their homework.