MESA, Ariz. — Jon Lester will make his second Opening Day start for the Cubs, as manager Joe Maddon announced Thursday that the left-hander will be on the mound to open the 2017 season on April 2 against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Lester, who finished second in the 2016 National League Cy Young Award balloting, was the Opening Day starter in ’15. Jake Arrieta will follow Lester, Maddon said.
“He definitely deserved it, he’s earned it,” Maddon said of Lester.
Maddon had a tough choice between Lester, Arrieta, who was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 2015, and Kyle Hendricks, who led the Major Leagues last year with a 2.13 ERA. Maddon said he hasn’t figured out the order for the rest of the rotation.
“We’re going to build after [Lester],” Maddon said.
Not many teams have three pitchers like Lester, Arrieta and Hendricks to chose from.
“Not many groups have that luxury — we do,” Maddon said. “Jake, two years in a row, has done an outstanding job, so has Jon Lester. Of course, there’s the ascension of Kyle. It has to go to Jon Lester based on the body of work. We feel good about that. However we want to set up three, four, five will follow.”
Lester led the Cubs with 19 wins last season and posted a 2.44 ERA in 32 starts.