Chicago Cubs are working with a starting rotation filled with question marks

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Yu Darvish / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs have a very top-heavy mix of arms this year

Kyle Hendricks is the one guy nobody ever seems to worry about – and with good reason. While his last two years haven’t been on the same level as his 2016 campaign when he captured the league’s ERA crown, he’s still one of the most consistent starters in the league, capable of keeping hitters off balance with his offspeed repertoire.

After Hendricks, right-hander Yu Darvish serves as a stark contrast to Hendricks in terms of his make-up. Working with a staggering 11 pitches in his arsenal, the four-time All-Star will hope to build off a breakout second half last year, in which he posted a 118-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If he can keep putting the pieces together, the Cubs could have one of the stronger 1-2 punches in the league.

It’s there where things get a bit murkier.

Behind Chicago’s two right-handers, Lester, their seasoned southpaw, comes back for what may very well be his final go-round on the North Side. Even with prorated thresholds for options, it’s hard to envision the 36-year-old hitting the necessary innings pitched mark for his 2021 option to vest.

Last year, Lester allowed a league-leading 205 hits in his 31 starts. He had a couple outings that went sideways in a hurry that really blew his numbers up, but you could tell he was grinding almost every time out, regardless of the result. Am I ready to bet against a three-time World Series champion and one of baseball’s best all-time big-game pitchers? No way. But he’s not a slam dunk when it comes to his starts anymore, either.