Jon Lester won’t make his dramatic return to the Fenway Park mound after an April that has already seen the $155 million ace get the Opening Night assignment and start the game where the Cubs finally raised their World Series banner at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are rearranging their rotation again for this upcoming three-city road trip so that Lester will face the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, followed by Jake Arrieta on Saturday afternoon. This means Arrieta won’t be pitching on April 21, the one-year anniversary of his no-hitter at Great American Ball Park.
The Cubs wanted the Lester matchup next week against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team with a .178 average and a .534 OPS versus left-handers so far this season. Instead of made-for-TV storylines, the Cubs are going with numbers and logically mapping out a schedule that will see at least five days off this month.
With this switch, Lester misses the chance to face the Boston Red Sox for the first time since getting traded to the Oakland A’s at the 2014 deadline, a move that would spark a free-agent bidding war among a few big-market franchises. The Red Sox originally drafted and developed Lester, watching him beat cancer and become a two-time World Series champion in Boston.
This also means that Arrieta will get another chance to perform on the Fenway Park stage, where on June 30, 2014 he finished four outs away from a no-hitter and got a standing ovation, flashing the dominance that would make him a Cy Young Award winner the next year and position him for his own megadeal after this season.
Carl Edwards Jr. didn't get a save or a win Monday night, but he was easily the most impressive pitcher on the field for the Cubs.
The 25-year-old right-hander came on in the sixth inning in relief of Eddie Butler and carved through the heart of the Nationals order, needing only 13 pitches to strike out Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.
For starters, Joe Maddon deserves plenty of credit for deploying Edwards in an integral spot, even if it was so early in the game. But the Cubs were clinging to a 1-0 lead at the time and Maddon didn't want Butler to face the Washington order for a third time, so Edwards was the call to keep things close.
And that's exactly what Edwards did in dominant fashion. It was the fourth time this season he struck out three batters in an inning, but in the previous instances, he needed at least 16 pitches to do so.
Here is the complete sequence from Edwards to the three helpless Nats (for one inning, at least):
Harper was also locked in at the plate at the time, as it was his only strikeout in the last two games in which he's collected six hits in eight at-bats.
Edwards has been rolling this season with a 1.72 ERA and sparkling 0.82 WHIP. He has 44 strikeouts in 31.1 innings, ranking 18th in baseball in K/9 (12.64).
Since giving up three runs in an outing June 14 against the Mets, Edwards has not allowed a run in five innings, striking out seven batters and surrendering only two singles and a pair of walks.
The Cubs gave Kyle Schwarber time to sort things out by sending him down to Triple-A Iowa, and Schwarber's first game back in the minors shows he may need some time.
Schwarber's first game with the Iowa Cubs was a forgettable one. He struck out in his first three plate appearances before singling in his last at-bat. He struck out looking in the first inning before striking out swinging his next two times up.
Schwarber batted third in the lineup and played left field. Iowa won 1-0 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
He last played for Iowa in 2015, but only spent 17 games there. He hit .333 with three homers and a 1.036 OPS in that short stint. Before getting sent down Schwarber was hitting .171 with the Cubs with 12 home runs, but also 75 strikeouts in 64 games.