Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has been taking it easy with his starters this spring. But they’ll finally start seeing some action as Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester will pitch this weekend.
After riding the arms of his top four guys last season, Chicago Cubs‘ manager Joe Maddon preached patience and rest after the extended season. But that time is coming to an end as Maddon will start using his top four beginning this weekend. Kyle Hendricks will take the mound first, with Jon Lester to follow him up on Sunday.
Jake Arrieta will take the mound on Monday. John Lackey will round out the rotation when he pitches against Team Italy in a WBC prelim game on Tuesday. The late start for these guys was planned after Maddon was forced to use them often down the stretch and in the playoffs.
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With Jason Hammel in Kansas City, the Cubs will be hoping for even more out of Lackey. Arrieta hopes to find that Cy Young form of 2015 as they are both in the final year of their contracts. 2017 is a critical year for the Cubs as they’re likely to head into next season with just Lester and Hendricks as locks for the rotation.
Starter get their work underway
As the starters begin to get their work in, the question of the Cubs Opening Day starter will start to come up. Maddon has said he’s not ready to name him but knows who he’s going to pick. While the obvious choices would be Lester or Arrieta, could Hendricks possibly sneak into the spot?
With the way the “rotation” is laid out this spring, it has to make you wonder a bit. Lester deserves the nod after the season he had last year. After posting a 19-5 season with a 2.44 ERA, it would be hard to deny him of it. But Hendricks did lead the NL in ERA and won 16 games of his own. Would Maddon reward Hendricks with the honor? And would Lester be okay with it? I think yes on both accounts.
If Maddon already knows, this rotation could be indicative of it. Hendricks would be behind Lester for the next five years as a Cub. What better time for Maddon to give him the honor. I very well could be reading too much into it–read that as I probably am–but it’s fun to speculate. But Maddon can’t go wrong with any of them.