Chicago Cubs: Starters must pitch deeper into games

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs relieves Jose Quintana(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09: Manager Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs relieves Jose Quintana(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

As the Chicago Cubs get set to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, all eyes will be focused on their starting pitching. If the defending champs want to book another World Series flight, they’ll need their starting rotation to pitch longer than they’re accustomed to.

After a crazy 9-8, series-clinching victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs now face the daunting task of taking down the Los Angeles Dodgers in a best-of-seven series showdown, beginning on Saturday. To do that though, plenty must go right for the reigning defending champs. None perhaps more notably than seeing vast improvement out of their uneven starting pitching.

While their offense is still very much a work in progress, the Cubs’ shaky rotation, made up of three former Cy Young candidates, has yet to hit their stride this postseason.

More from Da Windy City

Aside from a masterful 7-inning performance from Kyle Hendricks in Game 1 against the Nationals, none of the other four contests saw a starter on the Cubs pitch beyond 6 innings.

Granted, we’re now in an era of baseball, where more pitchers are being taken out earlier than expected in games due to precautionary reasons.  Having said that though, it doesn’t help when you have a manager who doesn’t provide his starters any wiggle room to work out of the first signs of trouble.

This is what Cubs’ skipper, Joe Maddon, is known for, unfortunately. Having the same amount of confidence in his starters as he does with his bullpen.

A manager not displaying much faith in his starters, no matter who that pitcher is, to work out of the first signs of trouble despite having a relatively low pitch count is problematic.

It’s problematic to, not only a taxing bullpen, running on whatever shortage of fumes it has left in the tank, but also for the wavering confidence of the starting pitchers themselves.

If your name is Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, or Jose Quintana, you basically need to be throwing a no-hitter nowadays to pitch into the 7th inning as a Cub. And that’s the glaring issue that has plagued the defending champs pretty much all season.

Maddon has made this issue become increasingly apparent, through his baffling decision-making. It’s as if he’s just unknowingly spreading a wild-fire onto his battle-tested ball-club. Remember: the Cubs often win in spite of Maddon (*Please see Game 7 of the 2016 World Series).

Related Story: Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers: NLCS Preview

If the Cubs want to play the underdog roll of spoilers correctly in their postseason matchup against the Dodgers, Maddon must let his starters have an opportunity to work out of trouble during games. If not, this series will rest once more entirely on the arms of their bullpen.

A bullpen, that for the most part, doesn’t appear ready to reliably deliver in pivotal moments, anytime soon.