The wait is over.
The Cubs officially announced their rotation for the National League Division Series with no surprises: Jon Lester getting Game 1, Kyle Hendricks going Game 2 at home and then Jake Arrieta followed by John Lackey on the road.
With two weeks between the Cubs' last truly meaningful game and the NLDS opener at Wrigley Field, speculation was abound on the Cubs' rotation and playoff roster.
But the decision to line the starters up this way has really been settled for a while now.
It also helps that Hendricks (2.13) and Lester (2.44) notched the two best ERAs in the National League.
"A lot of it has just been based on recent productivity," Joe Maddon said in the Cubs dugout before the team took part in a simulated game Tuesday. "The fact that Jon's just nailed it, Kyle's nailed it. But they've also been very good at home.
"Where Jake's also been good on the road and I think John Lackey doesn't care where he pitches. It kinda morphed into that. Over the last couple weeks, we've been talking about it. But those two guys have been exceptional [at Wrigley] and it's not easy to pitch well on the road and Jake's done a nice job."
In 15 appearances (14 starts) at home, Hendricks has a sparkling 1.32 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with a ridiculous 89:14 strikeout to walk ratio in 95.1 innings. On the road, he sports a 2.95 ERA and 1.099 WHIP.
Lester's splits are similar: 1.74 ERA, 0.89 WHIP at Wrigley and a 3.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP on the road.
Meanwhile, Arrieta has a 3.59 ERA away from Wrigley Field, but has a lower WHIP (1.04 on the road, 1.12 in Chicago) and finds a way to win away from home with an 11-3 record.
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Maddon also pointed to Lester's vast postseason experience that includes a 2.85 ERA over six different playoff runs and two World Series titles as part of the reasoning for why he got the ball to kick off the Cubs' road to the Fall Classic.
Arrieta, Lester and Hendricks all didn't have their best starts to close out the regular season, but with the four days off between Sunday's game in Cincinnati and Friday's NLDS opener, Maddon is only worried about the four starters staying healthy and not about trying to fine-tune anything.
"It's just a function of the time of the year, the fact that we are going into this situation in both a good and an awkward way at the same time, meaning that we clinched so early," Maddon said.
"It's definitely a different feeling about those [regular season] games internally. Very highly competitive people. All this stuff matters. So for me right now, it's all about health. They'll be fine when they pitch their actual playoff games."
Maddon also confirmed the Cubs have not yet made official decisions regarding the status of Jason Hammel or Jorge Soler for the NLDS.
Hammel is dealing with a sore elbow and missed his final regular season start. However, he pitched in Tuesday's simulated game and the Cubs didn't completely rule out his status on the NLDS 25-man roster.
Soler's troublesome right side issue limited him to just six at-bats over the season's final two weeks, but he took part in Tuesday's simulated game and the Cubs just want to ensure he's healthy by Friday.
"We're just gonna get him hitting right now," Maddon said. "He looked good the other day. Definitely a part of the conversation to make this roster as long as he's well."