Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester believes that pitching around Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper is simply a smart tactic, and not backing down from a challenge.
Harper is the second-most walked player in the National League this season (54), trailing only Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
When the reigning MVP faced the Cubs in May, he was walked 13 times in four games, although he never faced Lester.
Asked if he would throw to Harper, Lester said that it depends on the current scenario in the game.
“It depends on the game situation,” Lester said via CSNChicago.com. “He’s the MVP. You always have to respect that. I don’t think that's a matter of backing down or not taking the challenge. But at that time of year, it’s a matter of pitching smart.”
Lester said that Harper is treated like Daniel Murphy should have been when he was a member of the Mets last postseason. Murphy, who now hits cleanup for the Nationals, crushed seven home runs and 11 RBIs while leading the Mets into the World Series.
“(Murphy) beat us that (playoff) series,” Lester said, “and we didn’t recognize that early enough to make the next guy beat us. “That’s not wussing out on anything or not taking the challenge. That’s just being smart and understanding the game and trying to make the next guy prove that he can do it.”
Harper is hitting .254 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs this season.