Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester hasn’t gotten the accolades that fellow hurler Jake Arrieta has gotten this season, but on Wednesday he gave fans something to cheer about as he broke a record that had stood for nearly 50 years.
When Lester struck out Ivan De Jesus in the fifth inning of the Cubs’ 10-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, it marked his 203rd strikeout of the season. While that number may not seem all that notable on its surface, it represents the most batters that a left-handed Cubs pitcher has ever struck out in a single season.
Lester, who ends the regular season with 207 strikeouts, broke a record that was set in 1970 by Cubs great Ken Holtzman. Making Lester’s mark even more remarkable is that he accomplished the feat in significantly fewer innings than Holtzman did, with Lester throwing just over 200 innings this season while Holtzman threw 287 and 2/3rds innings when he set the strikeout record.
Lester also hit another career milestone on Thursday, as he picked up his fourth Major League hit in the victory over the Reds. It was the first time that he has registered a hit against a team other than the St. Louis Cardinals, whom he has picked up three hits against this season alone.
For the season, Lester ended up with an 11-12 record, a 3.34 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.12 as he completes the first year of a massive six-year contract that he signed with the Cubs over the offseason.