Hendricks to Start Game 1, Arrieta Pushed to Game 4 as Cubs Announce NLDS Rotation
There’s been a lot of talk about who could, should, and would take the mound for the Cubs, specifically in what order their four starters would line up. It had been widely speculated that Arrieta would be the Game 3 starter, but that was thrown into question as he skipped Tuesday’s scheduled sim game due to wet conditions.
That’s oversimplifying things, though, because the Cubs were probably planning to give him some additional rest either way. It was announced Wednesday that Arrieta would in fact be pushed back to Game 4, which means Jose Quintana taking the bump Monday at Wrigley.
We also learned that Kyle Hendricks would indeed be getting the first start as the Cubs open in Washington this Friday. He’d been the popular choice among fans and pundits alike, though Jon Lester’s pedigree and strong performance in the season’s penultimate game led many to think he’d get Game 1.
While I had hoped for this setup, I have to admit I’m a little surprised — pleasantly so — that it actually worked out this way. Hendricks has clearly been the Cubs’ best starter since coming back from finger tendinitis that hampered him for weeks before forcing him to the DL for most of June and July. He’s proven himself in big games in the past and has the calm demeanor to handle the role of staff ace.
Hendricks has also pitched significantly better on the road this season, putting up a 3.16 FIP away from Wrigley and a 4.49 at the Friendly Confines. Those numbers are both better since his return on July 24, and there is still a stark difference between his 2.43 and 4.12 home and road FIP marks.
Lester has been somewhat even in terms of splits, though it’s not like he was going to be pushed back to Game 3 at this point. Quintana has actually been much better on this season, both on the whole and in his time with the Cubs, but he has really performed well against left-handed batters and looks to have settled into a groove.
Arrieta is the wild card here and we’ll just have to trust that the extra time will allow his right hamstring to heal up fully. The Nats are hoping for much of the same with Max Scherzer, who was not able to throw his scheduled bullpen session Wednesday and who is still reportedly targeting a Game 3 start. His slider hasn’t been nearly as sharp as the season has gone on, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he’s able to get the same drive on that and the fastball when he does go.
More on the matchups and the Cubs roster as we have that info.