Cubs manager David Ross is waiting to make official the team’s starting rotation for its first-round playoff series this week. But as of Sunday afternoon, all signs pointed to Kyle Hendricks pitching Game 1 and Yu Darvish starting the next day.
“That makes a lot of sense, of course,” Ross said, “but I’m not ready to announce that yet.”
Hendricks’ most recent start was last Wednesday, which would give him six days between starts if he pitches in Game 1. Ross said before Sunday’s game that he did not plan to have Hendricks pitch an inning in relief against the White Sox, as he’d said last week could be an option.
Darvish would be looking at five days’ rest with a Game 2 start.
“I think it’s a big confidence boost for this group to know that you’ve got Hendricks and Darvish as a one-two punch,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Sunday. “There are a lot of teams with impressive one-two combos in their starting staff that they’re going to roll out in this first round. But we feel as good about Hendricks and Darvish as we would any combination out there.”
In Hendricks (6-5, 2.88 ERA), the Cubs have a steady presence who has pitched over seven innings in each of his last four starts. In Darvish (8-3, 2.01), they have an NL Cy Young candidate.
“Those guys have our full faith and trust,” Epstein said, “and I think it changes the whole dynamic of how you’re looking at that first round.”