The Cubs have some options for their rotation, but they also have questions.
As expected, the Cubs put struggling left-hander Brett Anderson (strained lower back) on the 10-day disabled list and called up reliever Justin Grimm. With Anderson out, the Cubs have a hole in their rotation and could plug it with either left-hander Mike Montgomery or Class AAA starter Eddie Butler. Or, with two days off coming up, they could go with four starters.
“We could do a lot of different things,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Just watching these guys pitch the next three days, then does anybody need an extra day? Do you want to pop a sixth guy in there?”
If Montgomery is next, he won’t need to be stretched out much. He has a history of starting and has thrown 97 pitches over his last two outings, which is a silver lining from the short outings by the starters he has relieved.
“He’s not far off number-of-pitches-wise” Maddon said. “He probably can go 80 pitches if we were to start him next time out, 75-80 easily. If you’re looking to do something like that, that’s exactly what happens. You put him in the game and just let him ride for a little bit if you can, but normally it’s under a bad situation.”
And Maddon wouldn’t want to keep Montgomery in the bullpen just to eat up innings.
“I want to believe the trend is going to go in the right direction with the starters,” Maddon said. “If it doesn’t, it’s going to be difficult for a long period of time.”
The Cubs haven’t gotten many long outings from their starters. Anderson left in the first inning Saturday, Kyle Hendricks lasted 5⅓ innings Friday, John Lackey went five Thursday and Jake Arrieta went six on 85 pitches Wednesday.
“I think they’ve been given all their opportunity to pitch as long as they should be pitching in these games to this point,” Maddon said. “As we pitch better, they’ll pitch longer into the game. It’s pretty simple stuff.”
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