Chicago Cubs unveil rotation for NLDS against St. Louis Cardinals
By Jake Misener
Ahead of Friday evening’s series opener at Busch Stadium, the Chicago Cubs laid out their plans pitching-wise, setting up ace Jake Arrieta to take the ball in the first game at Wrigley Field on Monday.
Left-hander Jon Lester will toe off against his former teammate in Boston, John Lackey, in Game One on Friday; Hendricks, who has been hot of-late, will follow him in Game Two and Arrieta will follow.
Manager Joe Maddon offered his take on Hendricks during Thursday’s press conference.
"“The fact that he could put the ball on the ground matters a lot, too, keep the ball out of the air,” Maddon said. “He’s just been very sharp, so we just chose to do that, and then, of course, we’re not going to skip Jake [for Game 3]. And then it’s going to get back to the idea of if we don’t use Jason Hammel before that, you probably will see him in Game 4, but if we need him sooner than that, you’ll see him sooner than that, and then we’ll have to make an adjustment for Game 4.”"
Lester is set to make his postseason debut as a member of the Cubs after signing a massive $155 million deal last offseason to become the staff ace, a role that has since been designated to Arrieta, who is a front-runner for the National League Cy Young.
In his big-league career, the veteran left-hander has a 2.57 earned run average in the postseason, including a 1.63 mark in the Division Series. In September and October, Lester was stellar, pitching to a 2.36 ERA, 0.786 WHIP and 5.86 SO/BB – so you have to hope that trend continues into the NLDS.
Meanwhile, Arrieta will look to extend his scoreless-innings streak past the 31 innings he currently sits at after his masterful complete-game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Wednesday night’s Wild Card game at PNC Park.
After that, things get a bit murkier, with Jason Hammel being mentioned as a potential option. That, of course, is dependent upon his not being utilized during the first two games of the series as a long-reliever.
St. Louis, meanwhile, will counter with Lackey in the opener – which makes sense given the fact that he’s been outstanding at home (1.93 ERA – nearly two runs lower than on the road), following in Games Two through Four with Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn.
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