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Cubs ride pen hard for big first half, plan to ease burden after break

Steve Cishek brought the funk from the right side 44 times in the Cubs' 91 games.

SAN DIEGO — Setup man Steve Cishek might be the reliever worth paying most attention to in the 69 games after the break.

The sidearming right-hander has 45 appearances — just two off the National League lead — and a 1.88 ERA after getting the final two outs of the Cubs’ 11-6 victory Saturday against the Padres. Manager Joe Maddon has leaned on him hard in hot spots.

Almost everyone else on the team has been managed with a more cautious approach to his workload.

‘‘Probably the one guy out of the whole group that I’m most concerned about is Cishek,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘You look at everybody else, they’re all in pretty good order.

‘‘[Cishek] is the one guy. And he’s easy to take advantage of because he always says he feels good. But you’ve got to be careful.’’

Pitching notes

Setup man Carl Edwards Jr., who threw 31 pitches in a 1 1/3-inning appearance Friday, headed home to South Carolina on paternity leave Saturday. He’s expected to rejoin the Cubs for their first game after the All-Star break Thursday against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Taking Edwards’ place in the bullpen was left-hander Rob Zastryzny, who was recalled from Class AAA Iowa.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who started Saturday against the Padres, is expected to open that five-game series against the Cardinals.


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Because that series is compressed into four days, with a doubleheader Saturday, the Cubs will need a sixth starter within the first five days after the break.

Maddon said the order hasn’t been determined, but the five regular starters all will pitch against the Cardinals, which means the sixth starter won’t be needed until July 23 against the Diamondbacks.

The Cubs are leaning toward Luke Farrell making that start after he stretches out at Iowa.

Fresh start for Chatwood?

If any Cubs player needs the All-Star break, it’s right-hander Tyler Chatwood.

Chatwood, who is in the first season of a three-year deal with the Cubs, pitched five good-enough innings Friday in his last pre-break start. His season to date has featured 73 walks in 84 innings, back-to-back starts of less than three innings, the birth of his first child, a 5.04 ERA and at last twice as many rounds of boos as victories (three).

‘‘I haven’t been good,’’ he said, assessing the constant struggle his 17 starts represent. ‘‘There’s been spots where I’ve had good [results], but I haven’t been very consistent like I know I can be and like I have been. We’ve won most of the games I’ve started, so that’s a positive.’’

The Cubs are 9-8 in Chatwood’s starts despite his personal 3-5 record. By contrast, they entered play Saturday 6-12 in games started by Hendricks, who entered the game 5-8 with a 3.93 ERA.

‘‘Obviously, I have a couple of days to decompress,’’ Chatwood said. ‘‘I plan on taking a couple of days off, kind of reset and hang out with my son and then get back to work.

‘‘It’s almost like a new start. It’ll be good.’’