Veteran left-hander Jon Lester will begin yet another chapter when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.
Lester (3-5, 5.02 ERA) will start the opener of the three-game series at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals, who acquired him in a trade with the Washington Nationals before Friday’s deadline.
Lester threw seven shutout innings during an 18-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on July 19. In his last Nationals outing on July 24, he allowed two home runs and three runs in five innings in a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Overall, Lester has worked six or more innings just three times in 16 starts this season. He will try to hit the reset button while working with future Hall of Fame catcher Yadier Molina.
“I think as you get older, you have to adapt,” said Lester, best known for long stints with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. “And I think sometimes it’s when you adapt and it doesn’t work, it gets a little frustrating. So maybe sometimes you go back to your old ways, and you get whacked around even more and you try to go back to the drawing board of adapting.
“In order to get here, you have to be a little hard-headed. And I think sometimes that gets in my way. But I’m excited to just … kind of start new. (Throwing) to Yadi is going to be pretty cool. … Maybe he can help me make some of these adjustments and believe in them a little bit more going down the stretch.”
Lester is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season and he is 7-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 13 career starts against them.
Ozzie Albies (8-for-12, one home run), Adam Duvall (11-for-36, two HRs, three RBIs) and Ehire Adrianza (2-for-5, two RBIs) have hit Lester well.
The Braves are trying to gain ground in the National League East race after making several trades before the deadline. They have not won back-to-back games since a three-game winning streak July 7-10.
Since the All-Star break, the Braves have gone 8-9 against the contending Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. Despite that, they were four games behind the division-leading Mets before play Monday.
“This was a gauntlet we went through, mentally, physically and the competition,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’re going to end the day where we started, which is good because that thing could have gone sideways with the teams we were playing.”
The Braves will open the series with Max Fried (7-7, 4.32 ERA), who absorbed the loss in a 2-1 defeat to the New York Mets in his last start. He struck out nine batters in seven innings, but he allowed the two runs on five hits and two walks.
Fried pitched well in a 9-1 victory over the Cardinals earlier this season, allowing one run on two hits and two walks in seven innings. He is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA lifetime against St. Louis in three appearances, including two starts.
Nolan Arenado (3-for-10, one HR, two RBIs) has the most success against Fried among the Cardinals.
–Field Level Media