As of Monday morning, the Probable Pitchers page on the Cubs website shows the following starters for the next four games. While you are reading this list, imagine a song you like playing in the background, and then suddenly hearing this sound when you get to Friday:
- Monday vs. Brewers: Jason Hammel
- Tuesday vs. Brewers: Jake Arrieta
- Wednesday vs. Brewers: Kyle Hendricks
- Friday vs. Pirates: Dan Haren
Dan Haren. Some of us have felt he shouldn't start at all the rest of the year, but there appears to be method in Mad Scientist Maddon's madness here.
The off day Thursday allows the Cubs to skip the "bullpen day," at least for one turn and possibly for the rest of the season. The rotation for the remainder of the Pirates series should be Lester Saturday and Arrieta Sunday. That allows Hammel to throw against the Royals in the home regular-season finale next Monday -- otherwise you'd have had Haren or "bullpen day" against Kansas City, and I think this is a better solution. Haren, after posting a 6.31 ERA with eight home runs allowed in 25⅔ innings (five starts) in August, has been somewhat better in September -- 3.26 ERA, just two home runs in 19⅓ innings (four starts).
So, that leaves us with the following, not yet officially listed, for the final week-plus, with "bullpen day" nowhere in sight:
- Saturday vs. Pirates: Jon Lester
- Sunday vs. Pirates: Jake Arrieta
- Monday 9/28 vs. Royals: Jason Hammel
- Tuesday 9/29 vs. Reds: Kyle Hendricks
- Wednesday 9/30 vs. Reds: Dan Haren
- Thursday 10/1 vs. Reds: Jon Lester
- Friday 10/2 vs. Brewers: Jake Arrieta
- Saturday 10/3 vs. Brewers: Jason Hammel
- Sunday 10/4 vs. Brewers: Kyle Hendricks
This works out perfectly to have Arrieta throw on normal rest in the wild-card game October 7, after which Joe Maddon can set up his rotation the way he wants it for the division series, presuming the Cubs win the wild-card game. Further, doing it this way allows Hammel to start twice against the Brewers (Monday night and October 2. Hammel has pitched quite well against Milwaukee this year.
Remember, this is just the way I see it shaking out. Perhaps you have a different idea. Post your thoughts in the comments.