(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the most coveted free agents of this past offseason square off on Wednesday night when Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals close out a three-game set with Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs.
Both Scherzer and Lester changed addresses this past winter, signing with their new, respective clubs for a combined 13 years and $365 million. So far the two arms have been worth the price, with Scherzer allowing two or fewer earned runs in all but one of his nine starts and Lester going unbeaten in May after a slow start to his Cubs career.
Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner who won a combined 39 games the previous two seasons, is 5-3 this year with a 1.67 earned run average. He has not lost since May 1, winning each of his past four starts.
The 30-year-old righty has allowed only two runs over his past three starts, including one over eight innings of four-hit ball to beat Philadelphia 2-1 on Friday. He also struck out six while giving up just one walk.
"He threw a great game tonight," Nats outfielder Bryce Harper said about Scherzer. "It's so impressive to see him go about his business."
Scherzer is set to make his third career start against the Cubs and has pitched to a 2.25 ERA against them without a decision.
Lester, meanwhile, is a former 19-game winner who won a combined 16 games last season with Boston and Oakland before coming over to the National League. He did struggle to an 0-2 mark and 6.23 ERA over four starts in April, but has gone 4-0 in five May outings with a 1.85 ERA, allowing only seven earned runs over 34 innings with 27 strikeouts.
The left-hander had won four consecutive starts before getting a no-decision in his club's 5-4 loss in Arizona on Friday. Lester, 31, yielded two runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. He sits at 4-2 with a 3.56 ERA on the year.
Lester is 2-0 in three prior starts versus the Nationals with a 3.32 ERA.
The Cubs evened this series with Tuesday's 3-2 victory as Addison Russell connected on an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After Chris Coghlan singled with one out off Matt Grace in the ninth, Jonathan Herrera reached on a fielder's choice and an error by shortstop Ian Desmond, then Russell ripped a 1-0 changeup into the left-center gap for the win.
"It was a great feeling," Russell said of his game-winning hit. "I was really seeing the ball good tonight."
Hector Rondon (3-0) earned the win for a scoreless ninth inning, helping the Cubs snap their two-game losing streak. Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant hit homers in the victory.
Bryant's seventh home run of the season and second in this series traveled an estimated 477 feet.
"He got a hanging breaking ball. He's got good power," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Bryant.
Bryce Harper and Denard Span connected on home runs for the Nationals, who had won two straight and eight of nine coming in.