Cubs Flip Hendricks, Anderson in Rotation for Rest, Potential Matchups

We’ve seen Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester flip-flopped twice already, so shuffling Kyle Hendricks and Brett Anderson shouldn’t come as any surprise. With no game Thursday, this will mean Hendricks goes Sunday in the finale of the Red Sox series on regular rest, while Anderson gets an extra couple days off after going 100 pitches in the Cubs’ blowout win over Pittsburgh Monday.

It was a little curious that Joe Maddon left his injury-prone lefty out there, given the lopsided score and the cool, damp conditions at PNC Park, but I guess there’s something to be said for saving the bullpen. The start was Anderson’s longest since he went 7.2 innings against the Giants on October 1…of 2015, while the 28 batters he faced was his highest total since he saw that many on July 12, 2015.

And from what I can tell, Monday’s start was the first time Anderson broke the century mark for pitches since he threw 114 against the Rangers on June 16, 2015. All things considered, it makes a lot of sense for him to be moved back a little bit.

This move does conflict, however, with Maddon’s stated goal of not having both of his lefties going back-to-back in the rotation, a reality that is now inevitable. The Red Sox series marks the beginning of 13 straight scheduled games, so there won’t be much room to tinker outside of an additional pitcher being used in there. The Cubs could lean on Mike Montgomery or they could call up Johnny Fullstaff to take a game.

Or maybe this is all part of the plan. The Cubs head home to face the Phillies for four games and Yankees for three after they leave Boston, which means Anderson and Lester will both face a pair of teams that rank in the bottom half of baseball when it comes to batting average against southpaws. Both opponents fare better in terms of OPS, but are still outside the top 10. Against righties, however, the Yankees’ .797 OPS ranks third in MLB while the Phillies’ .737 is 14th.

This also means that neither Lester nor Anderson will face the Rockies, who boast an .839 OPS against lefties when they head to the mile-high homer haven in Denver. Then the Cubs have off-days sandwiching a series in St. Louis, which allows Maddon to switch his top two starters again or make other tweaks in order to stagger handedness. But that’s probably looking too far down the road.

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