What the Cubs starting rotation looks like with Jose Quintana in the fold

What the Cubs starting rotation looks like with Jose Quintana in the fold

Jose Quintana will be in a Cubs uniform in just a few hours from this writing. 

How weird does that look?

The Cubs will slot their shiny new toy in Sunday's outing against the Baltimore Orioles in that series finale. It's the third game of the second half and the day Quintana was originally supposed to pitch with the White Sox.

Here is the Cubs' complete rotation coming out of the All-Star Break:

Friday vs. BAL: Mike Montgomery (1-6, 3.75 ERA)
Saturday vs. BAL: Jake Arrieta (8-7, 4.35 ERA)
Sunday vs. BAL: Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.49 ERA)
Monday vs. ATL: Jon Lester (5-6, 4.25 ERA)
Tuesday vs. ATL: John Lackey (5-9, 5.20 ERA)

Lackey was placed on the disabled list last week with a foot issue, but given he wasn't going to pitch for a period of 10 days anyways with the break mixed in, the move understandably flew under the radar. Kyle Hendricks is on the mend too and could very well get back on the mound the second time through the order coming out of the break.

Based on that order, Quintana is in line to start Saturday, July 22 against the St. Louis Cardinals for his Wrigley Field Cubs debut. After that, Quintana's third start is on pace to come in the final Crosstown Game of the series — Thursday, July 27 on the South Side.

That should be interesting...

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start."