Today, Joe Maddon made it official: former Rangers Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels will follow Jon Lester in the rotation for the Cubs’ opening series in Texas.
Maddon says Lester, Darvish and Hamels are locked in as the starters for the first three games in Texas. TBA for Atlanta.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 26, 2019
It’s been expected that those two would follow Lester, as they have all spring, but now it’s locked in. For Darvish, it’ll be a pretty incredible homecoming I’m sure, and I just hope he doesn’t put any extra pressure on himself (well, maybe “extra” is the wrong word – let’s go with undue). It’s already going to be a mental test for Darvish as he returns from a mostly lost season and then an elbow surgery rehab process. Just go do your thing.
As for Hamels, he didn’t have a whole lot of success in Texas over his final year or so there, but that may have had less to do with the ballpark, in particular, than with his own mechanics, which changed pretty significantly around the time he was traded to the Cubs.
The Cubs have some play for that Atlanta series thanks to a couple off-days in the early going, but it’s still a decent bet that they won’t be skipping either Kyle Hendricks or Jose Quintana.
In the end, the rotation matters only for a couple turns through, and then things tend to get all muddied up in any case. I reckon the Cubs simply liked the match-up with the Rangers for Darvish and Hamels, as well as the lefty-righty order, and the rest was kind of more coincidental than anything.
Also, one more time: woo hoo Kyle Hendricks extension!