If you were expecting the Cubs to go with their “top of the rotation” out of the break, they are not. Of course, given the way the three weeks preceding the break went, you could probably argue that the “top of the rotation” is in need of an extra long break anyway.
The Cubs will go with Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel, and John Lackey in their second half opening series against the Texas Rangers at Wrigley Field. That will leave Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, each of whom traveled to San Diego this week for the All-Star Game, to start in the following series, which comes against the Mets.
To that end, if you were arguing things down to the tiniest slice of import, you’d probably say it’s better for the Cubs to put their best out there against the Mets, since there’s a teeny, tiny chance that they could wind up squaring off down the stretch for a Wild Card spot. Better to give the Mets more losses than the Rangers, or so the argument would go.
For me, I kinda doubt it has much to do with that, and instead is more about giving the two All-Stars, both of whom struggled before the break, a really nice, long stretch off. Sounds like a good idea to me.
As for the rotation thereafter, it is yet to be announced whether Adam Warren will get another turn as the sixth starter, or if he’ll continue working in relief. Warren made his only start of the season the last time through the rotation, throwing five highly-effective innings against the Reds. He followed that up with a two-inning appearance out of the bullpen this past weekend … when he was charged with seven earned runs. So … about giving him another start …
I kid, of course, about making any decisions on the strength of two outings, but Warren struggled out of the pen for a good long while before the Cubs sent him to AAA Iowa to stretch out. For whatever reason, perhaps he’s better served starting right now. Whether that squares with what’s best for the rest of the Cubs’ rotation, however, is a separate question entirely – can they really go with six starters for an extended period of time without throwing off the other starters’ rhythm? (Obligatory: maybe they need their rhythm thrown off for a little while.)
We’ll see what happens with Warren. I’m assuming the Cubs will clarify the plan shortly after the break ends. Until then, look for the Cubs to go Hendricks, Hammel, Lackey, Arrieta, Lester coming out of the break.