(Reuters) – Veteran left-hander Jon Lester on Monday was named the Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher for Tuesday’s World Series opener against the host Cleveland Indians.
“It’s awesome,” Lester, the co-Most Valuable Players of the National League Championship Series, told reporters. “Especially to be a part of this organization with all the history and all that fun stuff that we keep being a part of and talking about.”
The Cubs, appearing in their first World Series in 71 years, are trying to win their first Major League Baseball title since 1908 – the longest championship drought in professional sports.
Lester will be going against 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in the opener of the best-of-seven series.
Kluber held the Boston scoreless over seven innings in the AL Division Series and allowed two runs over 11-1/3 innings in the AL Championship Series against Toronto to enter the World Series with a 0.98 ERA in the postseason.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon is confident handing the ball to Lester.
“Lester’s been there, done that before,” Maddon said after the Cubs punched their ticket to the World Series for the first time since 1945 by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In three career World Series starts while with Boston, Lester is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA.
In the National League Championship Series, Lester held the Dodgers to two runs over 13 innings in Games One and Five, resulting in two Cubs wins.
“Joe (Maddon) talks about staying in the moment, stay relevant with what we’re doing now,” said Lester. “I think this group has done a real good job of that.
“We’re the last two teams. This is one of the goals you set. You want to be the last team standing.”
Lester was 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA in 32 starts with the Cubs this season.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)