Nationals activate Jon Lester for season debut vs. Marlins

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Matt Weyrich
·2 min read
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Nationals activate Lester for season debut vs. Marlins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Nationals’ coronavirus outbreak has finally run its course. Twenty-nine days after Washington was forced to postpone its season opener because 13 members of the organization either tested positive for COVID-19 or came into contact with someone who did, the Nationals are activating pitcher Jon Lester to allow him to make his season debut Friday against the Miami Marlins.

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Lester, 37, was one of nine players placed on the 10-Day Injured List as a result of the outbreak. He cleared COVID protocols in mid-April but first reported to the Nationals’ alternate site in Fredericksburg, Va., to ramp his arm back up. He will be the final player affected by the outbreak to rejoin the club.

His return comes at an important time for the Nationals, who used their off-days this week to run out a four-man rotation after Stephen Strasburg was placed on the IL with shoulder inflammation. The team carries a starters’ ERA of 5.18, the third-highest in the majors. Patrick Corbin is off to an alarmingly poor start but no one in the rotation has been immune from the occasional catastrophic outing.

Lester has a career 3.60 ERA across 15 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs. While his production has slipped the last two years (4.64 ERA in 43 starts), Lester has a reputation as one of the most durable pitchers in the game. He was the only pitcher to make 30+ starts every season from 2008 to 2019 and didn’t miss a start during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, either.