(CBS) The man who took the ball in Game 7 of the World Series as the Cubs won the championship last season will get the ball in the playoff opener.
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks has been tabbed as the Game 1 starter for Chicago as it opens at Washington on Friday night. The Cubs will start left-hander Jon Lester in Game 2 on Saturday, while left-hander Jose Quintana will follow in Game 3 on Monday and and right-hander Jake Arrieta will go in Game 4 on Tuesday, if needed.
Hendricks (7-5, 3.03 ERA) started once against the Nationals this season. He took a loss on Aug. 4 at Wrigley Field, going seven innings and allowing three runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Hendricks has been at his best in the second half, registering a 2.19 ERA in his 13 starts since the All-Star break.
Lester (13-8, 4.33) started twice against the Nationals, recording a no-decision both times while throwing well. He had a 2.84 ERA in 12 2/3 innings against Washington.
Acquired in a mid-July trade with the White Sox, Quintana (11-11, 4.15) didn’t start against the Nationals this year. He was strong down the stretch, with a 2.51 ERA in five starts in September.
Arrieta’s placement in the rotation gives him extra time to recover from a right hamstring that’s still bothering him after he strained it in early September. Arrieta returned to make two starts late in the regular season. His second of those didn’t go well, as he lasted just three innings and 67 pitches and didn’t look like himself in a loss on Sept. 26. Manager Joe Maddon called it “wise” to give Arrieta extra time to rest.
If the series gets to five games, Maddon added that the Cubs could choose from Hendricks or Lester to make that start. Because of the two travel days worked into the schedule, Lester could still start Game 2 and go on full rest in Game 5.
The Nationals haven’t announced their Game 1 starter yet. Signs have pointed to right-hander Stephen Strasburg as right-hander Max Scherzer deals with a hamstring ailment, but Washington general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters the team will see how Scherzer reacts Wednesday and then announce its starter Thursday.