Lester leads Cubs into Cincy Friday

Lester leads Cubs into Cincy Friday

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta's second career no-hitter, which he pitched at Great American Ball Park against the Reds. Arrieta had originally been scheduled to start in Cincinnati that day, but the Cubs tweaked the rotation, and instead, Jon Lester will open a three-game series against the Reds.

Lester will be making his fourth start, and is still searching for his first win of 2017. The lefty ranks among the top five pitchers in the National League with a 1.00 ERA, giving up two earned runs over 18 innings so far. Two of his three starts have been quality starts. He just doesn't have that "W."

The Reds will counter with Tim Adleman, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville last Sunday to work out of the bullpen. Cincinnati decided to insert the right-hander into the rotation in place of Sal Romano, who was optioned to Louisville.

"I'm looking forward to it but it's not going to be different from any other start," Adleman said. "I'll just go prepare like I normally would and try to turn in quality innings."

The Cubs were 15-4 vs. the Reds in 2016.

Three things to know

• From 2015-16, Addison Russell posted an average exit velocity of 87.4 mph, the 12th highest mark of 15 players with at least 150 batted balls for the Cubs during that time. This year, however, the 23-year-old not only leads the team in that department (92.0 mph) but also had the most batted balls of 95 mph or harder (26) in MLB through Wednesday's action.

• The Reds have yet to announce Saturday's starter, but Cody Reed may get the assignment. The lefty has not given up a run over eight innings in four appearances this season.

• Arrieta will start on Saturday, one day after his no-hitter anniversary. On April 21, 2016, the right-hander struck out six and walked four in a 16-0 Cubs victory over the Reds. Lester is 3-1 with a 3.32 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds, who are batting .256 against left-handed pitchers.

• The Cubs have ranked last in the NL in home runs, and are probably eager to get back to Great American Ball Park, where they've had success. Anthony Rizzo hit six homers there last year, while Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist each hit five. Bryant had an amazing game last June 27, when he went 5-for-5 with three homers, two doubles and six RBIs.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.