The Cubs announced changes to the rotation Sunday which could have setup Jon Lester to start the opener of the NLDS on Oct. 7.
Jon Lester was moved up a day and will pitch on regular rest in the finale of the three-game series in St. Louis. Mike Montgomery was pushed to the opener of the homestand Thursday against the Brewers.
With the Cubs looking to clinch the division over the next three days, Joe Maddon will have Kyle Hendricks (Monday), Jason Hammel (Tuesday) and Jon Lester (Wednesday) start the series against the Cardinals.
Lester will get four more starts in the regular season with the change to the rotation. And Lester will have a shot at reaching 200 innings this year, which is very important to the veteran southpaw. Lester has completed 200 or more innings in seven of the last eight seasons. Lester had 191 2/3 innings for the Sox in 2011.
In 28 starts this year, Lester is 16-4 with a 2.51 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 3.54 FIP. Lester has allowed 51 runs, 49 earned, on 136 hits with 47 walks and 171 strikeouts in 176 innings.
According to multiple reports, Jon Lester is now lined up to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The Cubs have not made an announcement and have not talked publicly about the plans for a possible return to the postseason tournament.
Maddon told the beat writers Sunday that the change in the rotation had more to do with matchups than anything else. The Cubs like “the idea of Jon pitching in St. Louis more.”
The Tribune reported the Cubs actually started tweaking the rotation on Saturday when John Lackey moved up a day and Jake Arrieta was pushed to Sunday.
The Sun-Times and Tribune indicated the Cubs have not decided if Mike Montgomery will get another start in the regular season other than Thursday against the Brewers.
With 20 games remaining on the schedule and one more off day (Sept. 22), Jon Lester would have to start against the Reds (Sept. 20), Pirates (Sept. 27) and Reds (Oct. 2) to get four more starts this season with Montgomery in the rotation one more time through.
The Cubs wrap up the regular season on Sunday, Oct. 2 against the Reds in Cincinnati. The National League Division Series begin Friday, Oct. 7.