As I sit here today, the Cubs’ playoff odds, per FanGraphs, sit at 98.1%.
Now, then, 98.1% is not the same thing as 100.0%, but it’s a pretty good bet that the Cubs will be making their third straight postseason appearance this year. And if they do, it’s coming in just a couple weeks, which means it’s time to start thinking about how the rotation is shaking out to align with the start of the postseason. A five-day break between the end of the regular season and the first game of the NLDS on Friday, October 6 will help, but it’s probably good to get everyone on board as soon as reasonably practicable.
To that end, you will note that, if he stays healthy, Jake Arrieta is currently lined up to start the final game of the regular season, which would be exactly five days before the start of the NLDS. Does that mean the Cubs are anticipating that he’ll take Game One? Or would he get an extra day of rest, and Jon Lester – who starts tonight, and would thus be on schedule to get an extra day of rest if he started Game One – would take it?
If you’re expecting the Cubs to answer those questions today, you will be disappointed.
“It’s inappropriate to talk about that now,” Theo Epstein told CSN of the first starter discussion. “We have a lot of work to do, and those would be the guys that would help get us there in the first place. If you’re lucky enough to get into that situation, you’d just use all the factors … who’s going the best, who matches up the best, the most experienced … and we figure it out and go from there. But we’re still a good ways away from figuring that one out.”
From where I sit, I’m fine with it being a discussion for another day. The Cubs do still have to finish off that final 1.9%, and will play the Brewers for four games in Milwaukee in the process. Further, Jake Arrieta is only just now returning from a hamstring injury, and Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana are on fire. There’s a lot that is going to go into the Game One starter decision that isn’t yet written.
A funny aside from Michael:
2015: Lester Opening Day, Arrieta Game 1 Postseason
2016: Arrieta Opening Day, Lester Game 1 Postseason
2017: Lester Opening Day, …
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) September 20, 2017