SAN FRANCISCO — The Cubs plan to use Thursday’s off day to flip-flop Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester in the rotation for the weekend. Hendricks will pitch on his normal fifth-day schedule, and Lester will be pushed back a day to Sunday.
The move means Lester, one of three Cubs All-Stars, will be removed from the list of available pitchers for the All-Star Game Tuesday and is expected to be replaced on the active NL roster.
Technically, Lester can elect to bypass that rule and choose to pitch Tuesday; Arizona’s Patrick Corbin, who also is scheduled to start Sunday, informed major-league baseball of his desire to pitch Tuesday.
But even though Lester said he’s “not eliminating anything,” the five-time All-Star deferred to club management, which wants no part of its 34-year-old ace back on a mound two days after a start.
“I pitch for the Cubs,” he said. “I’m worried about Sunday. I’m not worried about anything other than that.”
The rotation switch also eliminates Lester (11-2, 2.45 ERA) from the Cubs’ second-half opener July 19 against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, and sets up the likelihood that Hendricks would start that game.
Manager Joe Maddon said the decision hasn’t been “100 percent” made yet.
Hendricks (5-8, 3.93) is coming off his best start of the season, becoming the first Cubs starter to pitch into the ninth inning this year. He allowed no earned runs in 8⅓ innings Monday in an 11-inning loss to the Giants.
“The best way to describe [the decision] is Kyle’s in the best position physically, with innings and all that kind of stuff, to come out of the break and have possibly the least amount of time off,” Maddon said.