gods-benevolenceNeither Scott Baker nor Matt Garza pitched after July 2012, but both should be ready to pitch by Opening Day 2013, according to Cubs President Theo Epstein. Garza has been out since late July with a stress reaction in his elbow, and Baker missed all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Each has been rehabbing and has started throwing, and things are looking good.

“Both guys should be ready to start the year,” Epstein said Wednesday, per Jesse Rogers. “Garza we expect to be full go in Spring Training and ready to start the year. And Baker, if he stays on schedule that’s laid out for him now – he’s up to about 75 pitches by the end of March. So we’ll just make a call from there. Both guys are on a nice timetable for the start of the season.”

In other words, each pitcher should be ready by Opening Day, but the Cubs might not necessarily open the season with them in the rotation if they’d prefer to take a cautious tack (or, well, if Garza has been dealt).

Epstein elaborated on the Cubs’ options, given their pitching depth.

“I think our depth gives us the luxury, if Baker for example needs an extra week or a rehab start because he’s not fully ready to go deep into games, we can do that with our depth,” Epstein said, per Paul Sullivan. “Whether it’s appropriate to stretch him out further or let him pitch or piggyback, we’ll see.”

The piggyback* comment is interesting, given our previous consternation about how the Cubs would deal with having as many as seven starting pitchers available from Day One – Garza, Baker, Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood, and Carlos Villanueva (who has not officially been signed yet).

Obviously, if they’re all healthy and around, Garza, Samardzija, and Jackson are locks for the rotation. Feldman was essentially promised a starting spot, so you can slot him in, as well. If Baker piggybacks, you could then have, perhaps, Wood in the rotation, and Villanueva in the bullpen as a swing guy, which he’s done before.

Garza, for his part, just tweeted this morning: “Just got Clearance for takeoff! #crawltowalk now its #walktorun! #GoCubsGo.” So, yeah, I’d say he’s feeling good.

*Essentially, either Baker or the “other” starter would pitch three or four innings, and then Baker or the “other” starter would take over for the next three or four or five innings. As long as neither pitcher gets bombed out after just an inning or two, the plan doesn’t really tax the bullpen any more than usual.

  • cjdubbya

    So maybe the Rockies’ starting staff idea is getting some legs, though not as strict? Interesting.

    • Spencer

      yeah, that’s the first thing that i thought as well. And I’m not really into that whole idea they have going in Colorado.

  • Patrick G

    Not sure if you settled this earlier in the week, but another porn pop up came up on my iPhone when this article loaded. The app was called “badoink” lol. In case no one caught it

    • Boogens

      (Imitating Brett…)

      Yeah, I’m really concerned about that porn pop up. So… what was the exact link again? :-)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks Patrick. I’ve removed some of the ads to see if I can isolate the problematic ones. If you still get redirects, pop-ups, or slowness starting tonight (need to give it a few hours to clear out) or tomorrow, please let me know – and details are helpful.

  • hansman1982

    “*Essentially, either Baker or the “other” starter would pitch three or four innings, and then Baker or the “other” starter would take over for the next three or four or five innings. As long as neither pitcher gets bombed out after just an inning or two, the plan doesn’t really tax the bullpen any more than usual. ”

    In this case when you would have 2 capable starters going you should, in theory, be able to completely rest your bullpen every 5 days or games out of 25 (assuming that you have at least 1 time out of every 5 times they start where the combine for 6-7 innings).

    • cubchymyst

      That is an interesting though. Allow the 5th starter and swing man to basically take up a whole game to give most of the bullpen the night off. The Cubs right now look to have 2 swing men in the bullpen which is the only way I’d try that. Need someone encase starters 1-4 have a bad day and need to be pulled early.

  • ETS

    Garza is hilarious and likeable. Can we just extend him already and end the constant (usually absurd) trade rumors?

  • mudge

    I’m not getting any porn. Did I do something wrong?

    • DarthHater

      The advertising is tailored to your interests. 😉

  • willis

    I can’t wait to see how Garza looks in the Spring. I’d bet on he being on quicker track than Baker at this point, but am very excited to see this pitching depth and how it all shakes out. Adding all the arms this team did is exactly the right thing and what was needed.

  • MichCubFan

    I wouldn’t mind having a guy or two in the bullpen who can pitch 5 or 6 innings at a time. If your starting pitcher doesn’t have it in the first inning or two, then you can bring in another guy to pitch into the 7th or 8th inning.

    The starting depth would also be nice for the competition, and for injuries and ineffectiveness.

  • Pete

    was feldmen ever really told he had a spot or was it he could compete for a spot?

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Feldman was promised the #5 spot. You’ve got to believe that Garza is traded for Olt or Chisenhall (I’d rather have Olt) and Baker fills outs the rotation with Wood and Villanueva in the pen. I know the Reds used Wood in the pen for 4 games in 2011 and I believe he posted a 0.00 ERA. He may be in competition with old-man Takahashi for the LOOGY spot on the roster, but Theo & Co may think he’s more valuable to the team as a starter.
    1. Jeff Samardzija (I believe Sveum said he was the Opening Day starter) [1st year arb]
    2. Scott Baker (FA, 1 year)
    3. Edwin Jackson (FA, 4 year)
    4. Travis Wood (L) [control]
    5. Scott Feldman (promised the 5 slot before he signed) [FA, 1 year]
    LR Carlos Villanueva (FA) [FA, 2 years]
    LR Hector Rondon (Rule 5)
    RP Cory Wade (NRI)
    RP Shawn Camp (Re-signed, 1 year)
    SU Jeff Russell (L) [1st year arb]
    SU Kyuji Fujikawa (FA, 2 years)
    CL Carlos Marmol [Trey McNutt could replace his spot on the 25 man and Fujikawa closes]

    When I was a teenager and the Rockies were the new expansion team, I wondered if they were going to do the whole “piggy-backing” thing. Of course, in my mind, I just figured each arm would have a 3 inning limit per game. That was the time before pitch-counts were in the forefront. It’d be a nice refresher for baseball to see a 3-inning save again.