Chicago Cubs: Where will the pitchers perform best?
The Cubs could make the playoffs and have many opponents with a few different home-field advantage scenarios. These opponents and home fields, in my opinion, change the order of the rotation.
Ideally, the Cubs will win the NL Central. If the Cubs win the NL Central, we will likely play the Atlanta Braves which would start the Cubs on the road. Because of this, I would throw Yu Darvish game One. Darvish has been money on the road this year and is one of the few Cub players that perform better away from Wrigley Field.
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I would have Hamels in the bullpen for the possibility of Yu getting hit around early. Game two would go to Jon Lester. Lester is clutch and always finds a way in the postseason. There are few pitchers in the game today that come close to Lester’s playoff greatness. Game three would go to Hendricks. The Professor is the Cubs best and most consistent pitcher. Quintana would serve as a potential long reliever in games two and three if the starters were to get in trouble early.
The Cubs could also get in through the Wild Card. If they hold the first wild card position, they would likely play the Washington Nationals at home in a one-game playoff, followed by a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If this is the case, Lester would be my choice to start game one. His postseason track record is too good and has earned the opportunity to show his talents at home. If Lester and the Cubs win the one-game playoff, game one of the NLDS would be in Los Angeles where I would start Darvish. We will need Yu to perform on the road to have a shot in the playoffs. Hendricks would follow Darvish for game two and Hamels for game three.
If the Cubs are on the road in the one-game wild-card playoff, I would start Darvish. If the Cubs win that, I would run out Lester game one, Hendricks game two, and Hamels game three.
This will be an incredibly hard decision for Joe Maddon and the Cubs coaching staff. With Darvish performing like he is on the road, I think the Cubs have to give him the ball the first road game. With Lester’s playoff history, I think there is nobody else that deserves the ball at home in the playoffs.