After a successful simulated game on Monday and throwing session yesterday, Cubs lefty Jon Lester is all systems go to return to the Cubs’ rotation this weekend. Lester missed a couple starts with a tight lat and general shoulder fatigue. In retrospect, it kinda seems like the guy needed a break in advance of the stretch run and postseason after two very long seasons the last two years.
Lester will start for the Cubs on Saturday, but he is not displacing Mike Montgomery from the rotation, at least not yet. That’s because Montgomery, who was excellent in Lester’s absence, and has largely been very, very good as a starter this year, will start on Sunday (Cubs.com).
That’s right: for now, the Cubs are busting out the six-man rotation. I am a big fan.
This time of year, particularly with a 3.5 game lead in the NL Central, the Cubs can benefit from a little extra rest down the stretch in advance of the playoffs. Further, the Cubs have six effective starting pitchers right now, and they lose very little by letting all of them take starts. Yes, I know that some of the veterans don’t like have their schedules slightly disrupted, but the research has shown time and time again, in the aggregate, more rest is a good thing.
How long the six-man rotation lasts remains to be seen (and obviously sometimes it’s artificially ended because one of the six gets a boo-boo), but it’s not out of the realm of possibility it could go the rest of the way.
Lester, 33, returns to a 4.37 ERA and 3.78 FIP on the season, his worst marks in those categories since 2012. His peripherals are more or less the same as they’ve been in recent years, though, with the two issues being a slight increase in his walk rate, and – like many other pitchers – a huge spike in his home run rate.
Montgomery, 28, sports a 4.05 ERA and 3.97 FIP in 10 starts this season.