Lefty Chris Rusin is looking more like a keeper
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 28, 2013 9:23PM
Updated: July 29, 2013 7:26PM
SAN FRANCISCO — Whether it’s a sign of real depth developing in the Cubs’ pitching ranks or one guy making the most of an opportunity, left-hander Chris Rusin is starting to affect the Cubs’ rotation plans down the stretch.
Rusin, who has been called up from Class AAA Iowa twice this month to make spot starts for traded pitchers Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, has pitched well enough in three starts to put himself in position for a longer-than-expected look.
Since trading for pitcher Jake Arrieta early in the month and sending Scott Baker (elbow) on a rehab assignment about two weeks later, the Cubs anticipated both would finish the season in the rotation.
But then what about Rusin, who has a 2.93 ERA after seven scoreless innings Saturday?
“Competition and depth and all that — that’s what makes it a great game,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Because when you perform, you change the way people think. Performance is everything in this game. Usually when you perform, you don’t lose your job.”
Rusin’s next start would be Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Arrieta is scheduled to be added to the roster for a day Tuesday to start the second game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers.
On Monday, Baker will make his fourth rehab start, his first for advanced-Class A Daytona after three rough starts for Class A Kane County.
Rusin, 26, was one of the Class AAA pitchers who got trial-by-fire debuts down the stretch last season because the Cubs had no other options for a trade-depleted rotation. A year later, he looks like one of the reasons they might have at least a few more legitimate big-league options.
“I’m not as nervous as I was [last year]. It goes away [more] each outing,” he said. “This year, it’s a lot more free and easy. I’m not tensing up or anything. In big situations, I’m able to calm myself and really make my pitch.”
Said Sveum: “There’s no doubt he’s changed a lot of minds moving forward.”