Chicago Cubs should tap Kyle Hendricks, not Yu Darvish on Opening Day

Kyle Hendricks / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Kyle Hendricks / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Chicago Cubs
Jon Le ster / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: For just the second time since 2015, Lester won’t get the ball

Since coming to the North Side ahead of the 2015 campaign, Jon Lester has pretty much been the guy for the Chicago Cubs. The big left-hander has lived up to all the hype that came with his record-breaking contract – and then some.

Since joining the Cubs, Lester has taken the ball at least 31 times each season, pitching to a 3.54 ERA during that stretch. He’s made a pair of All-Star teams, finishing second in 2016 NL Cy Young voting and, of course, helped erase a 108-year World Series title drought, earning co-NLCS MVP honors in the process.

But with roughly 2,700 innings on his left arm, Lester has something to prove after a disappointing performance last season. He led the league in hits allowed (205) and pitched his fewest innings in a season during his Cubs tenure (171 2/3). Now, that’s nothing to turn your nose up at – there are plenty of guys who wish they could eat that many innings in a subpar campaign.

The simple truth, though, is that Lester – while still one of the most hard-nosed and grittiest performers in the game – is no longer an ace. And that’s OK.

"“I just think you slot them in 1-2-3, for me,” Ross told “It’s just, ‘Who’s a better pitcher?’ Jon’s at a point in his career where, for me, Yu and Kyle have thrown better. Not to say that I ever don’t have any confidence in Jon. Obviously, I’ve got a ton of confidence in Jon … It’s just, you put you best foot forward to start the season, and I think Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks are a tick above Jon right now.”"

Heading into what may be his final season in a Cubs uniform, having someone as accomplished as Lester slotting into the three spot of the rotation can hardly be considered a weakness. But with the southpaw taking a step backward in the pecking order, it leaves opportunities for two of his teammates.