Dan Haren will pitch on Friday in the series opener followed on Saturday by a combination of relief pitcher that could include Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard. It all depends on who is used in games leading up to the weekend. Jon Lester will start on Sunday followed by Jason Hammel against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
Two doubleheaders over the past few days have backed up the rotation so Saturday will be the second time in a week Maddon is utilizing several relievers to get through a game rather than a true starter. The Cubs have Triple-A hurler Eric Jokisch staying ready in Arizona in case he's needed, but he'll only be used if there is an injury or after the Cubs clinch a playoff spot. Otherwise they don't have a reliever necessarily ready to throw more than a 3-4 innings.
"We're pretty satisfied with Cahill," Joe Maddon said Wednesday afternoon.
Cahill has emerged as a viable option down the stretch and could potentially get a playoff roster spot after he threw five clean innings last weekend in Philadelphia. Using several relievers to get through a key game is worrisome, but sending Haren out there against the first-place Cardinals is no sure thing either -- though he pitched his best against them a couple starts ago. Haren has a 5.31 ERA in eight starts since being acquired, but the Cubs don't have much choice as they're limited in their rotation.
"We thought we had built-in answers here," Maddon said.
Pitcher batting ninth: Maddon batted Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta ninth over the past two games but says it only had to do with protection issues not a change in philosophy.
"It depends on the lineup," Maddon said.
Expect the pitcher to bat eighth again, but Maddon said it's a "day by day" decision.
Magic number: Maddon is aware of the Cubs lead or deficit in the playoff race but isn't keeping track of the team's magic number to clinch a playoff spot. It's easily figured out by taking the number 163 and subtracting the Cubs win total and then subtracting the losses of the team directly behind them. So going into Wednesday night's game the Cubs had 83 wins and the San Francisco Giants had 69 losses meaning the Cubs magic number was 11. Not that Maddon wanted to know it.
"I learned my lesson a long time ago," he said. "Don't do that. I don't want us to focus on anything but one game winning streak staring tonight.
"When you get to this time of the year and you really want to get there you really have to go micro and look at today. That's what I do."