Hendricks gets Game 1 start, calls Darvish the Cubs' ace
This was a move that had been obvious for a few weeks, but Cubs manager David Ross officially named Kyle Hendricks the Game 1 starter against Miami on Wednesday, followed by Yu Darvish on Thursday and Jon Lester if a Game 3 is needed.
Darvish probably won't win the NL Cy Young, but he's been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, as evidenced by his 8-3 record and 2.01 ERA.
"We all know what Yu's done this year," Hendricks said Tuesday. "He's our ace, he's the guy, he's been dominant all year long. So really if this was a one-game playoff kind of thing, he'd be the guy, obviously. It just happens that we have to win 2 out of 3 anyway. I think just the way it lined up."
Ross also said the biggest reason was how the rotation fell. Hendricks last pitched on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, while Darvish threw Friday against the White Sox.
"I really feel like I've got two aces," Ross said. "Just days off, I don't want to give (Hendricks) that extra day. I trust both those guys. Kyle's resume ... the stages he's been on and the way he's performed, I think it's very comforting from my seat when he takes the ball at any point. I'm glad we've got those horses."
Hendricks has 10 starts in the postseason, while Darvish has six, including a victory over the Cubs in the 2017 NLCS while pitching for the Dodgers. But neither has started a playoff game since '17.
"These games mean so much more and you can feel it," Hendrick said. "You can feel it's starting to cool off in the air, it just makes it fun around here and it's a good time to be playing baseball."
A big difference in this year's playoffs is no days off within series. It won't matter much for the best-of-three first round, but if a second-round series goes five games, the Game 1 starter would have to come back on short rest for Game 5. And in the league championship series where it's best-of-seven, teams will likely use five starters instead of four.
But for now, the Cubs are trying to focus on the task at hand. The Marlins are expected to throw Sandy Alcantara (6-4, 3.61 ERA) in Game 1.
"It's a huge honor for me to get the nod from Rossy for Game 1," Hendricks said. "I'm really excited to go out there, take the ball in Game 1. I'm even more excited to go and watch (Darvish), what he's going to do for Game 2."