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Kyle Hendricks should be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter

New, 63 comments

It’s early, but let’s talk about this.

Here’s my choice
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I’ve written recently about the Cubs’ 25-man roster and how there will likely be few changes between now and Opening Day March 28. The signing of Daniel Descalso... likely about as good as it gets for free-agent excitement.

One thing that isn’t likely to change at all is the Cubs’ starting rotation. Pretty much set in stone are these five pitchers: Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish.

Of those five, who do you think should be the Opening Day starter?

If it were up to me, I’d give the honor to Hendricks.

Hendricks and Lester had similar seasons in 2018 by bWAR: 3.5 for Hendricks, 3.4 for Lester. Both struggled at times, both had long stretches of good pitching.

Over his five seasons with the Cubs, Hendricks has made 132 starts and posted a 3.07 ERA and 1.110 WHIP. Since 1945, here are all the Cubs starting pitchers who have made that many starts and posted numbers that good:

Kyle Hendricks.

That’s it. He’s been remarkably consistent over his five seasons, in which he has posted 16.8 bWAR. In 2016, he led the major leagues in ERA, the first Cubs pitcher to do so since Bill Lee in 1938. That year he posted 5.4 bWAR and finished third in Cy Young voting.

In his four years with the Cubs, Lester has had one outstanding year (2016), two pretty good years (2015, 2018) and one he’d probably rather forget (2017). He was the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in 2015, 2017 and 2018; the 2016 nod went to Jake Arrieta after his Cy Young season. No doubt, Lester has had an outstanding career, and I hope he has another good year in 2019.

But I think Hendricks’ consistency over his five Cubs seasons should be rewarded. Also, he’s never pitched in Globe Life Park, the home stadium of the team that traded him away. The Cubs should give him the Opening Day start — and follow him up with Hamels and Darvish, two former Rangers. Lester and Quintana can throw in the following series against the Braves in Atlanta.

Poll

Who should be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Yu Darvish
    (29 votes)
  • 5%
    Cole Hamels
    (33 votes)
  • 55%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (307 votes)
  • 32%
    Jon Lester
    (178 votes)
  • 0%
    Jose Quintana
    (5 votes)
552 votes total Vote Now