Cubs

Cubs undecided on NLCS rotation beyond Jon Lester in Game 1

Cubs undecided on NLCS rotation beyond Jon Lester in Game 1

The Cubs don't have the rest of their rotation set for the National League Championship Series, but the choice for Game 1 is easy: Jon Lester.

Joe Maddon confirmed as much Thursday afternoon during the Cubs' workout, but the team still isn't sure of Kyle Hendricks' status after taking a line drive to the right forearm in Game 2 last Saturday.

"I know that Jon Lester is going to pitch the first game," Maddon said. "After that, we're waiting to find out about Kyle and then we'll go from there."

Hendricks declared himself "good to go" before Tuesday's Game 4 in San Francisco.

Maddon said Hendricks was "in good shape" after Tuesday's session and the Cy Young candidate also threw Thursday.

"[We'll] just find out where Kyle is," Maddon said. "Making sure that he is healthy. He threw today; you always wait a little bit to find out if there's any after-effects of that and then you make your determination. That's about it. Just health."

Maddon admitted the Cubs still like the idea of having Lester and Hendricks start the first two games at Wrigley Field, where both have performed at an elite level this season.

So if Hendricks doesn't have a setback, expect the Cubs to announce him as the Game 2 starter Sunday night at Wrigley Field, where he posted a 1.32 ERA and 0.86 WHIP during the regular season (compared to 2.95/1.099 on the road).

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Lester tossed eight shutout innings to beat the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS, lowering his career postseason ERA to 2.63 in 17 games (15 starts).

Before he was knocked out of Game 2, Hendricks had allowed two runs on four hits while getting 14 outs (seven groundballs, seven fly balls). 

If Hendricks is good to go, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey would then fill out the rest of the rotation, starting Games 3 and 4 on the road in either Los Angeles or Washington D.C.

Arrieta provided a huge lift with a three-run homer off Madison Bumgarner in his start against the Giants in Game 3, but also turned in a quality outing on the mound - two runs on six hits and a walk in six innings.

Lackey, meanwhile, struggled to the tune of three runs on seven hits and two walks in only four innings before the Cubs' miraculous comeback in Game 4.

Maddon sees more in there for the Cubs rotation, especially Lackey, who hadn't pitched in two full weeks before the NLDS start.

"Jon Lester pitched his game, Jake was really good, Kyle never got his opportunity and you could say [Lackey] was off, but I thought John's stuff was good," Maddon said. "I look at the [radar] gun al lthe time, see how the fastball and stuff match up, and the numbers were good.

"The breaking ball numbers were good. My point is he's healthy and he's well and he just didn't execute, probably because he hasn't pitched in a while. But I felt good that the numbers match up - velocity, fastball to breaking ball, all that was there. 

"I have a lot of faith in our guys. They've been doing it all year. They're absolutely rested going into this moment, so I feel very strongly about our starting pitching."

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

hendricks-schwein-1018.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...