jon lester cubs featureBefore you freak: don’t.

Yes, the Chicago Cubs are moving Jon Lester’s and Jake Arrieta’s starts later this week* from normal Cactus League action to minor league games on Tuesday and Saturday, respectively, but it not for any kind of unnerving readiness or health-related reason.

Joe Maddon explained the reasons in this Cubs.com piece, and this Tribune piece. The reasons amount to a combination of:

(1) Having the ability to stretch guys out more comfortably (in a minor league spring game, you can pretty much do whatever you want, whereas Cactus League games have, like, rules),



(2) Allowing other starting pitchers to take those turns/allowing other pitchers to get innings in the Cactus League games, and

(3) “Shielding” the pitcher from being seen too much by other teams.

Maddon explicitly ruled out the Lester move having anything to do with his fielding troubles in his last start (i.e., he’s not heading to a minor league game so he can work on throwing to bases). It’s just a matter of putting him in a game where he can stretch out more comfortably, according to Maddon.

With so many pitchers in camp looking to get innings (even if, right now, competition for a roster spot seems limited to the very back of the bullpen), moving the six or so innings that would have been taking up by Lester and Arrieta to a minor league game is not a bad thing, either.



The Cubs are due to play the Padres on Tuesday and the Indians on Saturday, so the “shielding” angle is not quite as strong as if the Cubs were playing another NL Central team, but it’s not nothing. Advance scouts can, of course, still come and watch the pitchers in minor league games, but it’s not quite the same as when they’re facing big leaguers. Why provide other teams more information than is necessary, since Arrieta and Lester are going to be ready for the season no matter who they’re facing in the spring?

*Arrieta will start in the Cactus League today, as scheduled. It’s his next start, on Saturday, that is being moved.






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