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Rotation trepidation for Cubs heading into playoffs this time around

Licking his chops for a shot at the Nationals in the playoffs? John Lackey has a 3.67 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

ST. LOUIS — Right-hander Jake Arrieta’s right hamstring still bothers him enough that he said he can’t drive off the leg as well as usual and has had to adjust his delivery.

Left-hander Jon Lester pitched well in his last start but has only one more left — Saturday against the Reds — to back it up and show he’s not the pitcher who struggled in four starts before that after coming off the disabled list.

As the Cubs start thinking about their playoff opener Oct. 6 against Nationals ace Max Scherzer in Washington, a rotation that was the best in baseball last season is their biggest cause for concern this time around.

‘‘You have your ideas,’’ said manager Joe Maddon, who in recent days included right-hander Kyle Hendricks in the mix for a start in Game 1 or Game 2. ‘‘You saw Jonny Lester pitch better. You saw Jake [on Tuesday] and where he’s at physically right now. You’ve got [right-hander John] Lackey [who pitched well Wednesday].”

Arrieta has one more start — on a limited pitch count Sunday against the Reds — before decisions are made.

‘‘There’s a lot to consider,’’ Maddon said.

Wilson’s pain in the neck

Left-hander Justin Wilson, who was pulled from the eighth inning of a one-run game Tuesday after a walk and a 2-0 start to the next batter, had dealt with a stiff neck in recent days after sleeping on it wrong, he said.

‘‘It’s a little annoying but nothing I can’t deal with,’’ said Wilson, who said he won’t use it as an excuse.

What’s certain is that after struggling in all but a few appearances since being acquired from the Tigers in a trade in July, Wilson has precious few days left in the regular season to build enough trust to earn important work in the postseason.

‘‘If he goes out there, just throw consistent strikes,’’ Maddon said.

Almora sore a day later

A day after leaving the game Tuesday with a badly bruised right shoulder after crashing into the wall, center fielder Albert Almora Jr. said the soreness spread overnight, but he felt lucky and was optimistic he’d be ready for full duty in the playoffs.

‘‘I’ve got pain everywhere,’’ he said. ‘‘But I’ve still got a smile on my face.’’

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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