By virtue of their win Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs will get a few days off between games as they begin preparations for the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.
The first two games of that series will take place in Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with that time frame in mind, the Cubs have an interesting decision to make when it comes to setting their pitching rotation for the series.
The one thing that is a virtual certainty is that Jon Lester will be pitching when the series begins on Tuesday. That Game 1 start would give him his standard four days of rest, and considering how well he’s pitched throughout the postseason in putting up a sub-1.00 ERA, there is no reason to think that he won’t be on the mound for the Cubs on Tuesday night.
Game 2 is where things potentially get interesting for Joe Maddon. Normally that start would go to Kyle Hendricks, but if the Cubs were to opt for that decision, they would be forcing Hendricks to pitch on three days rest. During his time with the Cubs Maddon has stayed away from making a starter do that, and while he hasn’t officially made the decision, it doesn’t seem likely that he would start doing that now, especially with an opportunity to have Hendricks pitch in a home game at Wrigley Field in Game 3.
If Hendricks isn’t the man in the rotation, then the responsibility would either fall to Jake Arrieta or John Lackey. Common sense would seem to indicate that Maddon will just flip Hendricks and Arrieta in the rotation, but with how poorly Arrieta pitched in his last start, and how well Lackey pitched in his, Maddon could pull a surprise from under his sleeve when he finalizes his rotation.
Even with that in mind, and even with potentially having Arrieta available as a hitter when the Cubs will actually have to bat the pitcher at Wrigley Field, it still makes sense to stick with Arrieta as the Game 2 starter. He is still a very solid pitcher who looked good in his first outing of the playoffs, and Maddon will hope that the team will get Good Jake on the mound when he does make his first start in the World Series.