If the Chicago Cubs make to the National League championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they'll do so with a starting rotation that will need some improvising.
By losing 5-0 Wednesday and failing to close out the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the division series, the Cubs no longer will have the luxury of setting their rotation against the well-rested Dodgers, provided they win Game 5 Thursday night in Washington.
Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs against either Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark of the Nats. Jose Quintana would seem the likely Game 1 starter for the NLCS, but he may be needed to back up Hendricks.
Jake Arrieta started Wednesday's game, with left-handed ace Jon Lester relieving and pitching 3⅔ innings.
"Well, you've got obviously starting, Kyle, and then Quintana will play the role of Jon Lester tomorrow if it's necessary," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "We talked about that pregame. This was a good spot for Lester tonight and then tomorrow, just everybody's available tomorrow. We'll be fine tomorrow."
Nats manager Dusty Baker said he was not trying to be coy, but that he would "see the condition of everybody" before making a final decision.
No strangers to this:
The Cubs faced three elimination games last year in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians and won them all. They flew out to Washington on Wednesday night for Game 5 of the NLDS.
What should they expect?
"I don't know, we'll see," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "It's one game or go home. Backs against the wall. We've got to go to their place and do it. It's an elimination game. Anything can happen.
"A lot of nervous energy. You just want to get the game done, go out there and play. Travel. Good team flight tonight and get ready to go tomorrow."
This and that:
Cubs starting pitchers have posted an 0.40 ERA (1 earned run in 22⅔ innings) in the NLDS. Each of the Cubs' four starters allowed 2 hits each. … Ben Zobrist recorded his 17th career postseason double, tied for second most among active players. … Cubs pitchers walked nine in Game 4, a postseason franchise record. … Washington's Trea Turner doubled in the third inning to snap an 0-for-13 drought out of the leadoff spot.