Ostrowski: Chicago Cubs' rotation starting to deliver

This Chicago Cubs season has been a three-month waiting game for fans.

Waiting for the offense to consistently score runs instead of this volatile production.

Waiting for health. Kyle Hendricks, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist are on the disabled list. Brett Anderson has been on the DL since early May, and he begins a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday.

Waiting for Kyle Schwarber to show up. He was demoted Thursday and will be playing for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Monday.

Waiting for an extended run of victories that would lead to taking over first place in the division and not looking back.

Maybe, just maybe, the wait for consistency from the starting rotation is over.

In the last 11 games, the starting staff has a 2.52 ERA with 6 quality starts in their last seven outings. This should be pretty eye-opening. They're pitching their best as a group when two-fifths of the opening-day rotation hasn't been available for three weeks.

Another surprise might be that the Cubs' rotation is performing at a slightly above average clip. Their 4.40 ERA coming into the weekend is better than the 4.53 major-league average. Jon Lester is the only regular starter with a sub-4 ERA.

A pessimist might bring up the quality of competition during this recent pitching surge, but it's completely fair. Two of the last three Cubs opponents, San Diego and Pittsburgh, are bottom five in runs per game. Miami is 19th at 4.64 runs a contest.

The pitching will put this team in a favorable position if it can keep this up a little longer. The all-star break is in two weeks, and the trade deadline is five weeks away.

Reinforcements are coming. The team won't give a timetable on Hendricks, but they aren't letting him throw until he's 100-percent, which will be any day now. It isn't classified information that the front office will be trading for a starting pitcher.

Tough decisions are about to crop up regarding the rotation.

When Hendricks returns, will Mike Montgomery go back to the bullpen or continue to start every fifth day? Eddie Butler would leave the starting staff if Montgomery stays.

Will Anderson start another game for the 2017 Cubs once his rehab stint ends?

Who exits the rotation, assuming team president Theo Epstein makes a move for another pitcher?

The Cubs' starting staff's 2.96 ERA was the best in baseball a year ago. So if you want to say pitching wins championships, go ahead.

• Joe Ostrowski is a co-host of the "Hit & Run" baseball show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on WSCR 670-AM The Score with Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter@JoeO670.

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