The Chicago Cubs enter Saturday with their biggest lead of the year in the division. If they make it four-straight October appearances, who takes the ball?
Heading into the season, starting pitching was supposed to be the Chicago Cubs’ biggest strength. After all, Tyler Chatwood seemed to have promising splits outside of Denver and the team replaced Jake Arrieta with big right-hander Yu Darvish.
Well, that’s not how things have played out. Inconsistency has dominated headlines with this group from April on – and the second half hasn’t been much better. Still, there are some clear answers when you think about who gets the ball come October.
Jon Lester is going to start for the Chicago Cubs in the postseason. Period. That is going to happen without a doubt. He’s earned the right time and time again in his career. For the most part this season, Lester has returned to his high quality and consistent way of getting wins and been the true ace of the Cubs’ pitching staff.
In his first 25 starts of the 2018 season, Lester is 13-5 with 3.72 ERA, and he has solidified himself as the lead horse of the Cubs rotation. His last time out, he seemed to figure something out after a tough second-half stretch.
Another lock? Kyle Hendricks. Granted, he hasn’t been the same guy who won the Major League ERA title two years ago, but he’s still got it where it counts. In his first 25 starting assignments of 2018, the ‘Professor’ is 9-9 with a somewhat high 4.11 ERA. That would easily mark a new career-worst, as would his 1.224 WHIP.
Nevertheless, Hendricks has shown flashes of how dominant he can be, and has demonstrated he can flip a switch in the postseason and be a spectacular pitcher. With that in mind, he needs to start in October.