Tyler Chatwood is back in the Cubs’ rotation — for now — and touted pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay could be in play for a major-league debut in the next week or two as the Cubs consider a sixth starter at least once before the All-Star break.
Chatwood, who lost his starting job last year because of control problems, starts Thursday against the Mets in place of Kyle Hendricks, who went on the injured list Saturday because of a sore shoulder.
“He’s been pitching a lot better,” manager Joe Maddon said of Chatwood. “He came here for a specific reason. We believe he’s earned this opportunity to pitch in this situation.”
Maddon said the Cubs have made rotation plans only through this next turn.
Still being discussed is the likelihood of Alzolay making a spot start to give the starters extra rest one of the next two times through the rotation.
The Cubs on Sunday concluded a stretch of 17 games in 17 days and started another one Tuesday.
“There’s no doubt the starters wear down after two or three times through the rotation on four days’ rest,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We’re aware of their age and the mileage on some of these guys, and we want to make sure that we take care of that. …
“[Alzolay] is definitely in consideration when we slot a guy in.”
Chatwood has a 3.60 ERA in 35 innings this season. He has allowed just one run in his three appearances of four innings or more, including a scoreless six-inning spot start April 21.
“It’s gratifying,” said Chatwood, who was signed to a three-year contract before last season to be a starter. “I feel like I’ve thrown the ball pretty well. …
“I feel fresh,” he added. “I think I’m in a better spot than I was last time [starting], and I threw 70-something pitches last time. So but I think I feel fine.”
Hoyer said an MRI on Monday confirmed the original diagnosis of a “little impingement” for Kyle Hendricks, which could mean a return near the All-Star break.
“I feel like we got ahead of it,” Hoyer said. “I’m not sure how much time he’ll miss, but we’ll try to take it slowly and try to take the length of the season into account.”
Kimbrel sharp in Class AAA debut
Newly-signed closer Craig Kimbrel needed just eight pitches for a 1-2-3 inning in his first appearance for Class AAA Iowa on Tuesday after completing a spring-like prep period leading up to game action.
Kimbrel’s velocity reached 96 mph, and the Cubs say his breaking ball was sharp during the outing, which included a strikeout and was almost too brief.
“That’s one of the challenges we have when guys [get work at AAA], is actually getting enough work in,” Hoyer said.
Kimbrel is expected to need only four or five appearances. His next outing is Thursday or Friday, barring a setback, Hoyer said.
That could Kimbrel on pace to join the Cubs’ bullpen next week by the end of the 10-game homestand.
Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. had a cortisone shot in the inflamed area of his upper back near his non-throwing shoulder on Monday and is to be evaluated later this week to determine when he can start throwing again.
The hard-throwing setup man would have been eligible to return from the injured list on Thursday.