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.

Kris Bryant hit a homer, but Cubs announcer Jim Deshaies stole the show with an incredible sequence

Kris Bryant hit a homer, but Cubs announcer Jim Deshaies stole the show with an incredible sequence

The last time Kris Bryant homered, milk was 10 cents a gallon, nobody had ever heard the term "launch angle" and Khalil Mack was still on the Raiders.

OK, it's not been quite that long (except the last point is true), but the 2016 MVP went yard Monday night for the first time in nearly two months.

Bryant's opposite field shot was his first dinger since July 20 or put another way — it was his first homer since the Cubs traded for Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez.

It was beautiful swing, too, but Cubs TV analyst Jim Deshaies upstaged Bryant by calling the shot and maintaining that prediction the entire at-bat.

Deshaies and Len Kasper teamed up for one of the most incredible calls of the Cubs 2018 season, adding to the joy for fans as they watched the 2016 NL MVP finally get on the board in the homer column.

Bryant hit a solo shot on July 20 against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, but went on the shelf four days later after aggravating his shoulder injury. He missed more than five weeks before returning Sept. 1 and then went another 49 at-bats before connecting on his first dinger.

That's a great sign for a Cubs offense that has scuffled badly in September and has missed Bryant being Bryant.

Even Joe Maddon's son enjoys second-guessing his dad

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USA TODAY

Even Joe Maddon's son enjoys second-guessing his dad

When Joe Maddon walked out of the visiting dugout at Chase Field Monday night, Cubs fans were in an uproar on Twitter.

Including Maddon's own son, Joseph.

Maddon opted to take starter Kyle Hendricks out of the Cubs' 5-1 victory with two outs in the ninth inning following Paul Goldschmidt's single up the middle.

To which Joseph responded: "I get why he did it but I still booed my dad for pulling The Professor."

Maddon gets a lot of heat on Twitter, but this was an appropriate, light-hearted take on second-guessing the decisions of the Cubs skipper in a game in which his team cruised to its 88th victory of the season.

For all the crap he takes, this has probably been Maddon's finest season at the helm of the Cubs, who currently hold the best record in the National League despite an exhausting stretch over the last month.

Since Pedro Strop went down with a hamstring injury in Washington D.C. last Thursday, Maddon has had to get creative with the Cubs bullpen, deploying the likes of Dillon Maples, Jaime Garcia, Randy Rosario and Jorge De La Rosa alongside the team's top relievers in high-leverage situations.

The result has been a string of 9.2 scoreless innings from the Cubs bullpen, including the one pitch Justin Wilson threw Monday night before the final out.