A day after announcing that Jon Lester will get the start in the season opener, the Cubs made known the rest of the order for the starting pitchers in their super rotation.
After Lester takes the hill against the Miami Marlins to start the 2018 regular season, the Cubs rotation will go like this: Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana in the second, third and fourth games of that season-opening series against the Fish, then Tyler Chatwood to start the two-game set with the Cincinnati Reds before things turn back over to Lester.
For those following along at home, it also looks like it will be Lester's turn when the Cubs play their first game at Wrigley Field, on April 9 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs start the season with a 10-game road trip through Miami, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
Lester's Opening Day start will be his third in his four seasons since joining the Cubs. After a 4.33 ERA last season, he'll look to put up numbers closer to what he did in 2016, when he was the National League Cy Young runner up thanks to a 2.44 ERA, a 19-5 record and 197 strikeouts.
Hendricks could very well be the best pitcher in this crazy good rotation. Despite some time on the disabled list last season, he finished the regular season with a 3.03 ERA, the lowest among Cubs starters.
Darvish is the big-ticket addition to the Cubs that solidified their World-Series-or-bust expectations for 2018. The four-time All Star dominated the Cubs in last postseason's NL Championship Series before signing a lucrative deal right before the start of spring training.
Quintana has somehow managed to fly under the radar despite excellent numbers throughout his career. His ERA was up a bit last season, but in his first five big league campaigns with the White Sox he turned in a cumulative 3.41 ERA.
Another offseason addition, Chatwood might be baseball's best No. 5 starter. Though he led the NL with 15 losses and fell prey to the Coors Field effect last year with the Colorado Rockies, the pressure should be off with so many high-profile arms in this rotation.
All in all, it's shaping up to be one of the game's best rotations — if not the best. Will it be even better than the Cubs' rotations of recent vintage, ones that had a Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta?
"We’ve had good ones," manager Joe Maddon said earlier during spring training, "and I think this one has a chance, this one through five has a chance to exceed what’s happened over the last three years."
But Lester cautioned that just because things look promising now doesn't mean it's an automatic trip to the Fall Classic.
"I think everybody looks good on paper," Lester said. "With all these projections and computer programs now that people spit out about what you’re going to do that season, yeah it looks great. But we’ve still got to show up and pitch, we’ve still got to do our job.
"I’m excited about it. It’s a good group, and hopefully we’re able to get going earlier this year on that roll."