Cubs

After Cubs switch up rotation, Jon Lester likely won't pitch in All-Star Game

After Cubs switch up rotation, Jon Lester likely won't pitch in All-Star Game

Jon Lester is headed to his 5th career All-Star appearance next week, but he probably won't see any game action.

The Cubs changed up their starting rotation, announcing the move Wednesday afternoon that Lester and Kyle Hendricks would swap turns:

So that's Tyler Chatwood Friday, Hendricks Saturday and Lester Sunday. By having Lester start Sunday, it essentially rules out the veteran from facing American League hitters in D.C. next Tuesday. 

Thursday's off-day allows the Cubs to throw either Hendricks or Lester on regular rest Saturday.

The Cubs probably made the move to prioritize rest for the 34-year-old pitcher with more than 2,400 big-league innings on his resume including the postseason. 

Lester's been to the All-Star Game before and pitched in the Midsummer Classic. Not appearing in the actual game this year does nothing to diminish the honor of being voted onto the NL squad by his peers.

Due to odd MLB scheduling, the Cubs no longer have 4 days off for the All-Star Game and instead will have a quickturnaround, hosting the St. Louis Cardinals for a 5-game series beginning Thursday, July 19. (The two teams also play a doubleheader Saturday, July 21.)

Lester and the Cubs are eyeing another run into late October and rest has been a huge talking point for the club all season. After three straight National League Championship appearances, Lester doesn't need any more stress on his arm/body, especially in an exhibition game.

Lester has admitted throughout this season that he feels like a different pitcher now than he was even a year or two ago. All that wear and tear has changed the way he pitches, as he's now more focused on trying to pitch to contact rather than striking guys out.

If the Cubs are going to take home a second championship in the last 110 years, they're gonna need Lester to be healthy and fresh for the stretch run and into October.

Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury

In the midst of a second straight tough game against the Nationals, the Cubs were dealt another dose of bad news when Anthony Rizzo was forced out of the contest due to injury.

The first baseman was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the fifth inning with what the team called mid-back tightness. The Cubs did not have an update on his status immediately following the 7-2 loss.

Rizzo had walked the previous inning and was stranded on third base when a full-count pitch to Ian Happ was called a strike:

Rizzo made an error in each of the first two innings of the game, throwing a ball into left field when second base wasn't being covered and then dropping a throw from Javy Baez to begin the second inning.

Rizzo has dealt with back issues throughout his career, including a stint where he missed four games in mid-May.

Jonathan Lucroy hit for Rizzo in the fifth inning and doubled home the Cubs' second run of the game. He stayed in to catch while Victor Cartaini moved from behind the plate to first base.

The Cubs were already operating with a short bench since they currently have a nine-man bullpen and they had already utilized Happ off the bench earlier in the game (he was later ejected after the controversial call).

Joe Maddon has an interesting idea on how to fix the MLB Players Weekend uniforms

Joe Maddon has an interesting idea on how to fix the MLB Players Weekend uniforms

"Woof."

That's the first "word" Joe Maddon used to describe his thoughts on the all-white and all-black MLB Players Weekend uniforms and the Cubs manager may as well be speaking for seemingly every baseball fan on Earth.

The color schemes have not been a popular pick this weekend, from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying his team feels like they're wearing "milkman uniforms" to the endless run of Stormtrooper or Backstreet Boys jokes:

One of the biggest draws of Players Weekend is the nicknames on the back of the jerseys, but in the white uniforms, you can't even see the team's logo let alone what the jersey number or nameplate says.

That's led to plenty of ideas for improvement, including letting the home teams add color to their white uniforms however they see fit:

But Maddon had maybe the best idea on how to make the uniforms better for the 2020 Players Weekend.

"They should have every team design their own Players Weekend uniform," Maddon said. "That would be cool. Like with us, you go to [Anthony] Rizzo, [Jason] Heyward, [Jon] Lester, whomever your team leaders are and in the offseason, say, 'we're gonna do this next year, you're gonna be on the road, so consider road kind of uniform - go. You style the Cubs uniforms.'

"Then it truly is Players Weekend. I think you'd get a lot more interesting and better unigrams if you went that route."

That would be awesome and would allow for plenty of creativity from the players' end.

The other issue with the all-black jerseys is how closely they resemble the umpires' uniforms. At various points when the home team is up, it looks like there are five or six players on one side of the infield with the umpires.

It's also led the defenders to blend in with the wall at Wrigley, too.

"From the dugout, looking out, the ivy is so dark, also, so when their players are running out there, it's almost like they disappear into the ivy," Maddon said. "Again, it was not good form. There's no way I can advocate that. It's just not good form. And that's not even being a traditionalist, honestly. It's another version of the dress code - the worst dressers create dress codes."

The Cubs also had to make a change in regards to their hats for Players Weekend.

Home pitchers are not allowed to wear white caps because of the possibility the baseball will blend in with the hat as it's being delivered. So on Friday, Jon Lester wore his blue Cubs hat and the rest of his teammates followed suit in a show of uniform uniformity.

However, they all took the field with the white hats Saturday (Jose Quintana wearing a black Cubs hat) after being told they have to wear the all-white version this weekend.

So this weekend is all about the players and fun and games...but also rules and stipulations that must be adhered to.