Two American League transplants, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, will face off for the first time in the National League tonight at Wrigley Field. Scherzer, who joined the Washington Nationals on a seven-year, $210 million deal, and Lester, who joined the Chicago Cubs on a six-year, $155 million deal, have both handled the league change very well so far this season.
Scherzer looks to be the leading contender for the National League Cy Young award with a 1.67 ERA and 10.0 K/9 in nine starts this season. His 5-3 record is not as impressive as it should be thanks to some anemic April Nationals’ offense. Scherzer has allowed one run or fewer in seven of his first nine starts with the Nationals.
Lester had a shaky start to the season, but has turned things around his past five starts. His ERA has fallen from 6.23 at the end of April to 3.56, and he has turned in six straight quality starts while winning his past four decisions. In those six starts, Lester is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA and has struck out 37 while allowing only 34 hits.
The highlight for me in this matchup will be seeing how these two aces handle the scorching hot Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant. Neither Harper nor Bryant have faced either pitcher in their young careers. In last night’s 3-2 Cubs’ victory, both players homered. Bryant has homered in seven of his past 17 games and driven in 21 runs in May. Harper is on pace for 60 home runs this season, and has hit 12 home runs in May while batting .377.
One highlight I don’t care to see too much in this game is Lester in the batter’s box. Lester swings the “wet newspaper” of which his counterpart tonight speaks. He is 0-for-21 this season with 12 strikeouts, and is riding a career hitless streak of 57 at-bats. Against a Cy Young pitcher, that streak will continue with a few more empty trips to the plate.