"We don't know what the future holds," Lester said, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. "A lot of emotions going into tonight."
Lester was pulled after five innings and 62 pitches because Cubs manager David Ross was concerned about the amount of hard contact the 36-year-old was allowing to the Cleveland Indians. Chicago ultimately rode its bullpen to an extra-innings win.
"That's a tough one as a manager," Ross explained. "And pulling a buddy out, and with a low pitch count. I just thought it was a lot of hard-hit balls there."
The Cubs only have three home games left on the schedule. Should they host one of the best-of-three wild-card series, Lester still may not take the mound again. His 4.91 ERA and 5.18 FIP are career highs and the worst among Chicago's qualified starters.
"You just absolutely have to acknowledge that it could be (his last start in Chicago)," teammate Jason Heyward said. "He's earned that and some. And it really, really, really, really is unfortunate that we don't have fans here this year to help be part of that. Again, this is something he's earned since he set foot in the big leagues. It goes without saying, since he set foot in Chicago."
Instead of tipping his cap to a packed house at the legendary stadium, Lester, who's been integral to the Cubs since signing a six-year, $155-million before the 2015 season, walked off the mound for possibly the last time in Chicago in front of no fans.
"I think that's probably the most frustrating part for me," Lester said. "To have an empty stadium, it's not really how I envisioned possibly my last start here. I'm not going to sit here and say woe is me. But I didn't think six years would go this fast."
Lester was a two-time All-Star in six seasons with the Cubs. He won NLCS MVP and a World Series in 2016.