With the Cubs down to a winner-take-all Game Five today in Washington, it should be no surprise that it’s an “all hands on deck” situation. Sure, you’d love to think about lining things up for the NLCS, but it won’t matter if you don’t get there.
That was already the apparent philosophy yesterday, with Jon Lester called upon to piggyback with Jake Arrieta through 7.2 highly-effective innings. I do like the idea of giving the other team two very different looks in a game, so I’m on board with what might happen in tonight’s game: a Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana piggyback.
The hope, of course, is that starter Kyle Hendricks cruises for seven or so innings, and then the bullpen shuts things down from there. But if Hendricks grinds and is in position to be pulled in the middle innings in his third time through the order, Joe Maddon has said that Game Three starter Jose Quintana will be available to take over, not unlike Lester did last night (CBS).
It’s clear that the Cubs don’t have a lot of faith in many of the arms in their bullpen, even here in the postseason, so it’s unsurprising to know that they’d prefer to lean heavily on the starting pitchers.
I do wonder if Mike Montgomery, who is also a lefty and is very accustomed to (and successful at) swinging into the middle innings to go for 5 to 10 batters, couldn’t be just as effective as Lester or Quintana coming off of their starts. But, then, if you aren’t worried about preserving guys for the next round – and you really can’t afford to be at this point – then any incremental bump from Montgomery to Lester or Quintana is worth it.
In an ideal world, Hendricks goes deep, the bats put up a big lead, and this is all mooted. In that world, the Cubs win, and Quintana is available to take the ball in Game One of the NLCS. If it doesn’t play out like that, though, and if Quintana is needed today and the Cubs win, well, then, they’ll cross that Game One bridge on Saturday.