Jon Lester won’t make his dramatic return to the Fenway Park mound after an April that has already seen the $155 million ace get the Opening Night assignment and start the game where the Cubs finally raised their World Series banner at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are rearranging their rotation again for this upcoming three-city road trip so that Lester will face the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, followed by Jake Arrieta on Saturday afternoon. This means Arrieta won’t be pitching on April 21, the one-year anniversary of his no-hitter at Great American Ball Park.
The Cubs wanted the Lester matchup next week against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team with a .178 average and a .534 OPS versus left-handers so far this season. Instead of made-for-TV storylines, the Cubs are going with numbers and logically mapping out a schedule that will see at least five days off this month.
With this switch, Lester misses the chance to face the Boston Red Sox for the first time since getting traded to the Oakland A’s at the 2014 deadline, a move that would spark a free-agent bidding war among a few big-market franchises. The Red Sox originally drafted and developed Lester, watching him beat cancer and become a two-time World Series champion in Boston.
This also means that Arrieta will get another chance to perform on the Fenway Park stage, where on June 30, 2014 he finished four outs away from a no-hitter and got a standing ovation, flashing the dominance that would make him a Cy Young Award winner the next year and position him for his own megadeal after this season.