David Ross Makes Playoff Rotation Official: Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester Against Marlins

Most everyone had already assumed the Cubs would pitch Kyle Hendricks in Wednesday’s Game 1, followed by Yu Darvish on Thursday and Jon Lester if necessary for Game 3, and David Ross made it official Tuesday afternoon. Hendricks opened the season with a complete game shutout against the Brewers, then ran into some bumps on the road before posting a 1.45 ERA over five masterful September starts.

He’s also got a 2.98 ERA across 11 postseason appearances (10 starts), the last of which came in October of 2017 when he faced the Dodgers. His opponent in that one was none other than the man who now follows him in the playoff rotation.

“It’s a huge honor for me to get the nod from Rossy for Game 1 but at the end of the day we all know what Yu has done this year,” Hendricks said Tuesday. “He’s our ace. He’s been the guy dominant all year long. If this was a one game playoff kind of thing, he would be the guy, obviously.”

Darvish finished strong as well, bouncing back from a trio of either forgettable or blah efforts to shut the White Sox out over seven innings last Friday. The big righty compiled a 2.01 ERA with an 8-3 record* and dominated opponents with 93 strikeouts to just 14 walks, putting him among the Cy Young contenders in the National League.

“I really feel like I have two aces,” Ross told reporters.

Lester is a bit of a wild card because he’s been showing his age for at least the past two seasons and doesn’t miss many bats. That reliance on getting contact and letting the defense help him can work out really well at times, but we saw this past Saturday how it can also result in crooked numbers for the opponents. The Marlins are in the top third of MLB when it comes to hitting lefties, so Lester may be on a short leash.

That’s not a bad thing, though, as Adbert Alzolay has shown the ability to shut down opposing lineups and would provide a nice change of pace from Lester. Given how poorly the Marlins hit righties, using a piggyback starter after the first time through the order wouldn’t be a bad idea. But hey, let’s just assume the Cubs won’t even need a third game.

The Cubs and Marlins open their series on Wednesday at 1pm CT on ABC and 670 The Score. In a nice twist, Len Kasper will be handling the play-by-play call on the radio when Pat Hughes takes his 5th-inning hiatus.

*In a twist I’m sure some folks will find a way to hold against Darvish, his eight wins are one more than he had totaled in his two previous seasons with the Cubs.

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