Levine: Rain In Forecast Has Cubs, Nationals Weighing Pitching Strategy

By Bruce Levine

CHICAGO (CBS) — To play or not to play, that is the question.

Throughout Tuesday afternoon, MLB, TBS, the Cubs and the Nationals were trying to determine how impactful the weather would be for Game 4 of the National League Division Series, which is scheduled for a 4:38 p.m. first pitch at Wrigley Field. Rain is in the forecast for the late afternoon and throughout the evening, leading to the possibility of Game 4 being pushed back to Wednesday.

Neither Cubs manager Joe Maddon nor Nationals manager Dusty Baker wanted to risk losing a starting pitcher due to a long rain delay Tuesday and turning a contest into a battle of the bullpens. For the Cubs, there was the added stress of right-hander Jake Arrieta dealing with a hamstring ailment for more than a month.

Should anything go sideways with a game being played amid bad weather, Maddon has No. 5 starter John Lackey and long man Mike Montgomery available. The Cubs wouldn’t send Arrieta back out to the mound after a lengthy delay.

“With Lackey, he made need just a little bit more time than normal,” Maddon said of Lackey getting warmed up. “He will not need a whole elongated process to get in there. We just need to give me a little extra time, a little bit of a heads-up. I already talked to (pitching coach Chris Bosio). That will not be a concern.”

Should Game 4 get rained out Tuesday, Arrieta will start Wednesday, Maddon confirmed. The Nationals are likely to take a different course. Right-hander Tanner Roark is the scheduled starter Tuesday, but Washington could turn to ace right-hander Stephen Strasburg on full rest if Game 4 gets pushed to Wednesday.

“Hopefully, if we start the game, we know that we can play the game,” Maddon said. “It is difficult if you send out a starting pitcher and then he must sit for 45 minutes in a delay. I prefer that if you start the game, you know that you will be able to play the game, as opposed to having so many interruptions.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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