Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks lined up to start first two games of National League Division Series
The Cubs have not made any announcements and are not expected to any time soon. But the Cubs shifted the rotation Wednesday and pushed Kyle Hendricks to Monday’s opener in Pittsburgh. With Hendricks now following Jon Lester in the rotation, the Cubs have lined up their top two pitchers to start the playoffs.
Jake Arrieta (Friday), Jason Hammel (Saturday) and Jon Lester (Sunday) will start the three games against the Cardinals. Lester is pitching the regular season finale at Wrigley Field in prime time on the ESPN’s last Sunday night telecast of the year.
Lester started the home opener on April 11. After Tuesday’s win over the Reds, Lester is 9-2 in 14 starts with a 1.86 ERA and 0.91 WHIP at Wrigley Field this season.
Kyle Hendricks will pitch the opener of the four-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday on two extra days of rest. Joe Maddon announced that the Cubs will go with a bullpen game Tuesday at PNC Park. Mike Montgomery and Rob Zastryzny are among the pitchers Maddon is expected to use in the second game with the Pirates.
According to multiple reports, the changes to the rotation have setup Lester to pitch Oct. 1 at Great American Ball Park against the Reds and Hendricks would start the season finale on Oct. 2.
The Cubs had a primary meeting Wednesday about the playoff rotation and roster. Joe Maddon said nothing was settled on.
“By no means did we settle on anything, but we just laid the groundwork for the discussion among the group. And there are a lot of really tough decisions there. In your bullpen, how many are you going to keep and who are they going to be? And then the guys coming off the bench, all that stuff is still up in the air a little bit.”
“We will be doing a lot of manipulation,” Maddon said. “So, we’re going to have a bullpen day next week. There are other things we may do. We haven’t announced or talked to everyone yet. There are all kinds of different things we’re working on right now to try to make it a constructive week and get a really good final look at some guys. There will be a lot of manipulation with the pitching staff over the rest of the season.”
It appears the Cubs will have Jake Arrieta and John Lackey ready to start games three and four, if necessary, on the road. Due to the layoff between the end of the regular season and the start of the NLDS, Arrieta and Lackey may have to throw simulated games to stay sharp.
Game 1 of the NLDS is Friday, Oct. 7 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs will likely play the winner of the NL Wild Card. The Cubs have not secured the top spot in the NL playoffs yet. Game 2 of the NLDS is Saturday, Oct. 8. There is a travel day on Sunday, Oct. 9 and Game 3 is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 10.
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