On Sunday, Scott Baker made his long-awaited Chicago Cubs debut. The outing, which came after months of rehab and minor league appearances, was a surprising success. Although he threw just 55 pitches, he completed five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and a walk.
Maybe a sole successful September start is not what the Cubs hoped for when they signed Baker for $5.5 million in the offseason, but perhaps it’s more than they expected after watching Baker struggle through many of his minor league rehab appearances (which themselves came a couple months after Baker’s 2013 debut was expected).
And the Cubs might get more yet, with Dale Sveum confirming to Cubs.com that Baker will make another start for the Cubs. The precise date isn’t decided yet, but it’ll be at some point in the next week. That suggests that no one in the rotation will be bumped, and that Baker could actually get a couple more starts before the season ends.
I’m still of the mind that what we can learn this month about Baker with respect to 2014 is relatively limited. It could be that the Cubs are looking to do right by Baker this month, as they have the rest of the year, in order to maintain a good relationship heading into the offseason. While Baker feeling good about the Cubs isn’t going to make him take a minor league deal with the Cubs over a Major League deal with another club, it could put the Cubs in a position to keep Baker around on the most reasonable deal possible.
Plus, assuming the Cubs feel like they’re seeing enough of Chris Rusin and Jake Arrieta, there’s still nothing to lose by giving a couple more starts to Baker.