MESA, Ariz. -- Not many teams have the luxury of having the Major League's ERA leader as their No. 5 starter, but the Cubs can do just that.On Thursday, manager Joe Maddon announced Brett Anderson had won a spot in the Cubs' rotation, but will be inserted into the fourth
MESA, Ariz. -- Not many teams have the luxury of having the Major League's ERA leader as their No. 5 starter, but the Cubs can do just that.
On Thursday, manager Joe Maddon announced Brett Anderson had won a spot in the Cubs' rotation, but will be inserted into the fourth spot while Kyle Hendricks, who led the Majors last year with a 2.13 ERA, will be fifth. The Cubs will open the season with Jonathan Lester starting on Opening Day followed by Jacob Arrieta, John Lackey, Anderson and Hendricks.
The Cubs wanted to avoid having two lefties, Anderson and Lester, start in back-to-back games against opponents.
"Everybody's always concerned about pecking order regarding who you perceive to be best or least best," Maddon said. "It's just more or less balancing it out. I don't even know how important that is either. Some teams only have righties -- you see righty, righty. Is that a benefit to the other side? I don't know. We're just going to do that to break it up a little bit."
Hendricks did just fine as the No. 5 starter last year, winning a career-high 16 games and finishing third in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
"If he does the same thing, we'll be pretty happy with that," Maddon said.
When Hendricks wasn't named the Opening Day starter, Maddon joked that the right-hander was so upset, he started throwing things around the clubhouse. What was Hendricks' reaction to being No. 5 again?
"I heard things rattling, so it must have been that," Maddon said. "That's the point about our group -- everybody buys in, everybody's good and they understand about being a part of the puzzle in their own unique way. It's kind of neat when you can have these conversations, knowing ego is not going to play a part of it coming from the player back at you. They know it's part of the overall picture, they know the purpose is to do what we did last year. It's a unique situation."
Anderson signed as a free agent this past offseason after pitching last year with the Dodgers, although he was limited to four games because of a back problem that required surgery in March 2016. Mike Montgomery, who also was being considered for the rotation, will go to the bullpen.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.