CHICAGO – One might have been able to take a pretty good guess as to whom David Ross would put in his first starting pitcher rotation as a manager.
There may have been some pause on who would start a possible third game of the National League Wild Card, but there was no doubt who was taking the mound on Wednesday and Thursday.
Kyle Hendricks will get the ball for Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the Marlins on Wednesday at 1 PM. The next day at Wrigley Field, it’s Yu Darvish who gets the ball for his first Cubs’ postseason start.
Should the series need a third game, veteran Jon Lester will take the hill for Friday’s Game 3 against Miami.
This is the second time that Hendricks has been the starter for the Cubs to being a postseason, doing so in 2017 when the team played the Nationals in the National League Division Series. That was one of 11 games he’s pitched in the playoffs for the Cubs since 2015 with a strong 2.98 ERA in those performances.
Hendricks was on the mound when the Cubs clinched the National League pennant in 2016, pitching 7 1/3 shutout innings in a 5-0 win at Wrigley Field. He was also the starter for Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians that year, leaving with the lead after 4 2/3 innings as the Cubs eventually went onto win their first World Series championship since 1908.
This season Hendricks was 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA this season, and was his best in September, going 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA.
Darvish, a Cy Young candidate, starts in Game 2 after his best season as a member of the Cubs. He had a MLB-high eight wins as opposed to three losses with a 2.01 ERA with 93 strikeouts compared to 14 walks.
This is the seventh career start for Darvish in the postseason, with the others coming with the Rangers and the Dodgers. His last start came in Game 7 against the Astros in the 2017 World Series, when Houston got five runs off the pitcher (four earned) in just 1 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Dodger Stadium.
Should the series go to Game 3, the Cubs’ most experienced playoff starter would get the call. If he goes Friday, it would be his 27th playoff start, having pitched in 12 games with the Cubs so far in the postseason.
Overall he has a 9-7 record in the postseason in Chicago, Boston, and a Wild Card game with Oakland, sporting a 2.51 ERA