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Jon Lester Can't Hit. Time For The DH In The National League

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The new Cubs lefthander is great on the mound... not so great facing other pitchers.

This is Jon Lester failing to bunt. Do you really want to see more of this?
This is Jon Lester failing to bunt. Do you really want to see more of this?
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester has spent his entire career in the American League -- nine seasons' worth. As such, he hasn't been asked to bat very much, only in interleague games and in his two World Series appearances.

The first hit he gets as a Cub will be his first major-league hit. His first professional hit, in fact, as he didn't bat at all as a Red Sox minor leaguer.

It's a small sample size, granted, just 43 plate appearances. But Lester appears to be a particularly bad hitter. In those 43 PA, Lester is 0-for-36 with 22 strikeouts, one walk, five sacrifice bunts and one sacrifice fly. Oddly enough, the walk and sac fly were in the same game -- June 27, 2010 at San Francisco. Lester's bb-ref page doesn't indicate how many other sac bunts he tried to lay down and failed to execute.

You already know how I feel about this. For many years I was anti-designated hitter, but in recent years I've been getting fed up with watching Cubs pitchers like Ted Lilly (.101/.124/.124 lifetime) and Matt Garza (.087/.113/.105 lifetime) flail away at pitches and fail to even lay down successful sacrifice bunts.

You might say we'll lose strategy if the National League adopts the designated hitter. I say that "strategy" like double-switching and having the pitcher bunt with runners on and less than two out isn't "strategy," it's by-the-book managing. I'd expect Joe Maddon to be a little more creative with things like this, but I'd much rather see a ninth hitter in the lineup than see pitchers try to hit.

Finally, it's inherently unfair to have two sets of rules when we really don't have two "leagues," we have one league with one set of umpires and year-round interleague play. Having the DH in the AL and not the NL would be like having an NFL with two-point conversions in AFC games but not NFC games, or an NBA with three-point shots in the West but not the East.

I'm never going to convince some of you, but I think the DH is coming to the National League, perhaps in the next labor negotiation post-2016.

And with the Cubs adding a pitcher who's terrific doing his pitching chores but can't hit, it's time.