Cubs rolling with their ‘two aces’ to open Wild-Card Series
In some ways, David Ross and the Cubs had a tough decision to make regarding the Game 1 starter — Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks?
At the same time, it was an easy decision…because there was no wrong answer.
Darvish has been a National League Cy Young candidate all year while Hendricks was tabbed the team’s starter for the regular season opener and responded with a complete game shutout.
“I really feel like I have two aces,” Ross said.
What ultimately tipped the scales in Hendricks’ favor for the Game 1 nod was the schedules both pitchers are on.
Hendricks last pitched Sept. 23 in Pittsburgh, so he already is operating on a couple extra days of rest. Ross didn’t want to give him one more day and run the risk of rust setting in, especially since Hendricks has been so good lately (1.45 ERA in 5 September starts).
Meanwhile, Darvish threw on Friday and now his status for Game 2 allows an extra day of rest in his schedule, too. So both Cubs pitchers should be fresh and ready to roll as long as the team needs them in each outing.
“I’m really pumped that it’s me and him going first 2 games,” Hendricks said. “It’s a huge honor for me to get the nod from Rossy for Game 1. At the end of the day, we all know what Yu’s done this year. He’s our ace. He’s the guy that’s been dominant all year long. If this was a 1-game playoff kind of thing, he would be the guy obviously.
“It just happens that we have to win 2 out of 3 anyways, so the way it lined up, I was throwing before him anyway. So I think it was just happenstance that we kept it in line like that. I’m really excited to go out there and take the ball Game 1. I’m gonna be even more excited to watch him for what he’s gonna do in Game 2.”
Hendricks is right – Darvish has been the Cubs’ ace all season. The 34-year-old right-hander led the NL in wins (8) this season with a 2.01 ERA and 0.96 WHIP and will surely be at least a Top 3 finalist for the Cy Young Award (and has a good shot to win it).
All season long, it’s been “Win Day” for the Cubs whenever Darvish has taken the ball.
In a series where the Cubs only need to win 2 out of 3 games, they feel very confident in their chances with Hendricks and Darvish taking the ball for the first 2 contests.
“I trust both those guys,” Ross said. “Kyle’s resume, what he’s been through in his career and the stages he’s been on and the way he’s performed — it’s very comforting from my seat when he takes the ball on any stage at any point during the season.
“I know he’s excited. I’m excited. We’ve got to win 2 of them. I could say the same thing about Yu Darvish when he takes the mound as well. I’m glad we’ve got those horses and I’m excited to watch Kyle suit up and take the bump [Wednesday].”
Ross also confirmed Jon Lester would get the ball to start Game 3 Friday if the series got to that point.