Cubs’ Joe Maddon Ponders Pitching Options For Playoffs

(CBS) As the Cubs continue to debate their postseason roster and haven’t announced their rotation, manager Joe Maddon did reveal a nugget Tuesday.

Whoever gets the ball in Game 1 for the Cubs would “probably” get the start in a potential win-or-go-home Game 5 as the Cubs face the Nationals in the National League Division Series. While that’s normal protocol, the Game 2 starter could also go on full rest in Game 5 because two travels days are built into the schedule, leading to the theory the Cubs could just choose a Game 5 starter based on who threw best in the first two games.

Game 1 is Friday in Washington D.C., and signs point to right-hander Kyle Hendricks and left-hander Jon Lester pitching the first two games of the series in some order.

“What I’m saying is if comes back to Game 5, probably the No. 1 would pitch (Game 5), but then you’d be able to utilize No. 2 out of the bullpen quickly if necessary,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday.

It was in Game 7 of the World Series last November that Hendricks got the start and was relieved by Lester. That remains in the back of Maddon’s mind. Lester went three innings, allowing two runs, one earned and was sharp for the most part.

“He did really well too,” Maddon said of Lester’s relief appearance in the Cubs’ wild Game 7 win to clinch the championship. “I often look back at that, and that’s one of the most understated parts of that game, was that nobody gave Jonny Lester as much credit as he deserved (in relief).”

Maddon called right-hander Jake Arrieta’s progress in his rehab from a hamstring strain “good” but added that Arrieta won’t pitch in the team’s simulated game Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Instead, Arrieta will throw a side session. Maddon insisted he’s still in line to pitch in this series. Arrieta has been ruled out of starting either of the first two games.

“He’s doing really well,” Maddon said.

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