Chicago Cubs: Critical five-game set at Wrigley opens second half action

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Time for the rotation to kick it up a notch

We’ve beaten this story into the ground this season (as has everyone else). Chicago Cubs starting pitching, which was supposed to lead this team back to the Promised Land, continued to underperform during the first three months of the season.

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Chicago starters rank sixth in the NL in earned run average, 12th in WHIP and fifth in opponent batting average. The problem? Their inability to eat valuable innings. This group ranks 13th in innings pitched – ahead of just the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds. When you sink north of $150 million into the staff during the offseason, suffice to say, you expect a bit more production.

With a five-game set, obviously all five members of the rotation will take the ball against the Cardinals this weekend. Kyle Hendricks opens the series on Thursday, looking to build on one of the best starts we’ve seen from him in several years – a start against the Giants in which he pitched into the ninth.

Five-time All-Star Jon Lester takes the hill on Friday afternoon, giving the Cubs a solid one-two punch to open the series. Mike Montgomery and Tyler Chatwood tackle the twin bill on Saturday and Jose Quintana closes things out on Sunday.

On paper, the Cubs have the edge in this arena. But, as we saw during the first half, that means very little if these guys don’t go out and execute like they’re capable of. The good news? The rotation is well-rested and ready to go.