Cubs turning to six-man rotation down the stretch
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 30, 2014 1:50AM
ST. LOUIS — The Cubs might not have the aces they need to finish off their competitive rebuild. But they have enough wild cards to go with a six-man rotation the rest of the season.
General manager Jed Hoyer said the club wants to get regular looks at newcomers Jacob Turner and Felix Doubront in particular while continuing to use the four holdovers: Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood and rookies Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada.
Turner, a powerful right-hander acquired from the Marlins this month after a disappointing run, made his first Cubs start Wednesday in Cincinnati. Doubront, acquired from the Red Sox near the trade deadline, returns from the disabled list (calf) Saturday to make his Cubs debut in the first game of a doubleheader.
“It makes a lot of sense to get a lot of guys innings and to lessen the load on the guys that we have,” Hoyer said. “We have a lot of guys, like Turner and Doubront, that we want to take a look at, not to mention some of the call-ups. We’re not in a pennant race, so it’s also a good time to let these [holdover] guys get a breather. It allows us to not shut down Hendricks. And guys like Arrieta and Wood, we won’t ride them quite as hard as we would if we were in a pennant race.”
Hoyer said that the specifics of the six-man schedule will be nailed down in the next few days.
The Cubs also expect Edwin Jackson (lat strain) to return from the disabled list in time to make at least one abbreviated start before the season ends.
Right-hander Dan Straily, who was acquired from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija trade July 4, made one spot start for the Cubs but appears more likely to work out of the bullpen when he’s brought up from Class AAA Iowa after rosters expand next week.
NOTES: First baseman Anthony Rizzo missed his third consecutive game because of back tightness Friday. Manager Rick Renteria said he had improved but was day-to-day.
◆ Manny Ramirez, who was allowed to return home after going on the Class AAA Iowa DL with a nagging knee issue, is expected to play winter ball, Hoyer said. Afterward, the Cubs might discuss a return to the organization in some capacity. “We feel really good about the way the entire experience went for us,” said Hoyer, whose front office hired Ramirez in May as a player/coach to help with the development of prospects such as Soler, Baez and Bryant. “He was outstanding in Iowa.”
◆ Outfielder Justin Ruggiano’s season officially ended when he had an arthroscopic clean-out procedure on his ailing left ankle Friday in Dallas.
◆ Kyle Hendricks gave up two runs before recording a second out Friday night. But after talking with pitching coach Chris Bosio, he regrouped and didn’t allow another run for the rest of his six-inning start. He gave up two hits and no walks in his final 5 2/3 innings.
◆ Justin Grimm recorded four strikeouts in the ninth inning, the 72nd time a pitcher has done that in major-league history. Daniel Descalso reached on a wild pitch after becoming Grimm’s second strikeout victim.
◆ With four homers Friday, the Cubs have 34 in August, the most in the National League with three games to play in the month.