Chicago Cubs left-handed starting pitcher Jon Lester is nearing his return from a shoulder injury and should be ready to start Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN. The Cubs originally placed Lester on the club’s 10-day disabled list on Aug. 18 due to shoulder fatigue.
The 33-year-old threw a bullpen session on Wednesday.
Even with Lester returning, Chicago plans to use a six-man rotation due to the success of Lester’s replacement, Mike Montgomery, who has allowed just one run over 13 innings in two starts.
Additionally, it has been a bit of a rough year for Lester. The four-time All-Star has gone 8-7 with a 4.37 ERA over his first 26 starts, surrendering 143 hits and 20 home runs across 148.1 innings of work. It marks the first time Lester has owned an ERA of 4.00 or worse since 2012, when he had a career-worst 4.82 ERA for the Boston Red Sox.
Last season, Lester was brilliant, finishing second in National League Cy Young Award voting after going 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA. Over 202.2 innings, the lefty surrendered just 154 hits while striking out 197 batters. Over the course of his 12-year major league career, Lester has gone 154-91 with a 3.50 ERA through 342 starts.
Meanwhile, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell will have his right foot examined after suffering a setback, which Dr. Selene Parekh of FanRag Sports discussed on Wednesday. Russell has been sidelined since the beginning of August with the issue.
Chicago entered play on Thursday with a record of 72-60 and sat 3.5 games in front of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central.