Chicago Cubs rotation will be unified decision
Manager Joe Maddon said it would be a group decision this week on whom the Chicago Cubs start in Games 1 and 2 of the National League division series at Washington.
Jose Quintana and Jake Arrieta will pitch a simulated game Wednesday at Wrigley Field, leaving Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester as the candidates for Games 1 and 2.
The Game 1 starter could go in a Game 5, but with off-days in the NLDS schedule, so could the Game 2 starter.
Maddon may want Hendricks in Game 1 to better limit the running game of Nationals leadoff man Trea Turner. But Maddon also talked of a "pecking order" with the rotation. Lester entered the year as the Cubs' ace, and he turned in 2 strong starts to finish the year after a bout of shoulder fatigue.
"The Game 2 starter can still impact that Game 5 situation," Maddon said. "It's more about 1-2. Of course the 1 starter would have the best chance of starting 5. But Game 2 definitely has a chance to be impactful. I think it's the 1-2 combo that's the most important."
Maddon, pitching coach Chris Bosio and bullpen coach Lester Strode will sit down Wednesday with team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
"Everybody talks about what they would like," Maddon said. "You pretty much arrive at a conclusion. When you asked me a question like that, I always think of Colin Powell in regards to advising the president because Colin Powell would talk about you give the best advice and you give your strongest loyalty.
"Everybody's required to give your best advice. If you just want to remain quiet, it's your fault. But say what you think."
Auditioning for October:
John Lackey worked 1 inning of relief in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds and took the loss, as he gave up 2 hits and 1 run.
Lackey tuned up for possible postseason relief work.
"Just getting a test coming out of the bullpen and see what it looked like," manager Joe Maddon said. "See how he felt, that kind of thing. He had a really good slider coming out of the pen, and his velocity was normal. So I thought he looked, actually, pretty good. It's an option."
Define your terms:
Joe Maddon was taking with a grain of salt the hamstring injury suffered Saturday by Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Maddon was told Scherzer "tweaked" the hamstring.
"The 'tweak,' as it's defined by the American Medical Association, I'm always curious about how we all try to play semantically with injuries," he said. "I have no idea what a tweak is. A tweak could be a sprain or a strain or whatever, I have no idea. But I love the word 'tweak.' "
Rizzo and Bryant shine:
Anthony Rizzo finished with the same home run (32) and RBI (109) totals that he had last year. His final line was .273/.392/.507. Kris Bryant finished at .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers and 73 RBI.
"Everybody's been critical of KB," Joe Maddon said. "KB is quietly one of the top WAR-mongers (wins above replacement) in the league right now. 'What's wrong with KB?' Nothing. Everybody looks at the fact that his RBI total isn't what it could have been. Everything else is in play.
"And Rizzo never gets talked about enough. Anthony's having a great season. It's incredible how he slips through the cracks all the time as far as I can tell in conversations, end-of-the-year awards, things like that."
This and that:
The Cubs drew 3,199,562 fans at Wrigley Field this season. That's the fourth-highest attendance in team history … The Reds' Joey Votto made his 162nd start of the season. He and the Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar are the only two major-leaguers to start every game this year.