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jake arrietaAfter his most recent rehab start for the Tennessee Smokies, and after the Chicago Cubs shuffled their rotation slightly this week, I took a guess that we could see Jake Arrieta finally making his season debut with the Cubs after one more rehab start. It sounds like that could be the case.

Sahadev Sharma reports that Arrieta will make his final rehab start – this time with AAA Iowa – on Monday, and then he’ll be up with the big club for his next start. Arrieta was at Wrigley Field on Friday to throw a side session for pitching coach Chris Bosio. If all goes well on Monday at Iowa, Arrieta should be in line to join the rotation the next time through the order.

The tricky thing there is that, if Carlos Villanueva starts on Sunday, he’d be scheduled to pitch again on Friday – but Arrieta, if he throws on Monday, wouldn’t be ready for his debut until Saturday, assuming normal five-day rest for each pitcher. Perhaps Villanueva, then, will get two more starts before heading to the bullpen, and Arrieta’s return on Saturday will just give the other pitchers an extra day of rest. This all assumes, of course, that Villanueva is the guy whom Arrieta will replace in the rotation, but we’ve been given no indication that that isn’t the case.

Arrieta was slowed in Spring Training by a stiff shoulder, and fans have been eagerly awaiting his debut. He looked pretty good in a short stint with the big club last year after the Cubs landed him in the Scott Feldman trade. That said, the 28-year-old righty has never quite been able to match the stuff (scouts and Orioles development folks long believed he had ace upside) to the results. He’s got a pretty low floor, as he showed at times in Baltimore, but he’s also got a tremendously high ceiling. The Cubs are hoping this is the year he finally turns that corner. If he does, the near-term rotation picture looks quite a bit brighter.

UPDATE: I guess it’s going to be Daytona, instead of Iowa –

  • Patrick G

    its so frustrating that the Cubs are said to have no real pitching prospects or TOR guys in the minors, but our starting pitching has been fairly good over the rebuild(maybe minus EJAX) and our lineup has been brutal. If only our top prospects where up and scored some runs, this team could be competitive. Atleast we know when they are up in the bigs, even if they don’t have top pitching, Theo has been good at finding reasonable pitchers for cheap

    • Q-Ball

      One thing is clear: The system that Theo and Co. inherited was bereft of pitching. The only pitcher Hendry and Co. developed worth anything is Samardzija (others: Russell, Parker, Rusin). I’ll give you Cashner who was traded. But how many pitcing prospects did Hendry leave?

      Hendry actually made some good moves as GM, but the farm system was a disaster we are still paying for.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      I really think C.J. May be TOR…just hope he doesn’t tear!

  • Kyle

    He’s 28 years old. “Upside” is a footnote at best. He is who he is.

    • Q-Ball

      So far, what Arrieta is a “serviceable 5th starter”. We are hoping for more. I tend to agree he’ll probably stay at that level, but it’s worth a shot; half a season of Scott Feldman was not a high price to pay.

    • JasonP

      Pretty much this, but I think he was a good pickup given what the Cubs have for SP.

      Shark and Wood are (if we’re being generous) #2-#3 quality.

      Then there are a slew of middle to back of the rotation options that are ML ready or close to that: Hammel, EJax, Rusin, Wada, Hendricks, Grimm, Ramirez, maybe even Jokisch too.

      If Arrieta crashes and burns, then so be it. If he can keep his nasty stuff in the strike zone the ceiling is better than either Wood or Shark.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Brett, you say assuming that Villanueva is the guy that gets sent to the pen. I wonder if Jackson has a real ugly day today, if they might take him out of the rotation. I’m not a lip reader, but after he got pulled in the last game he was having a rather heated discussion with Bosio in the dugout. To be truthful after Jackson threw all fastballs in that spring outing without telling the manager and coach, I have to wonder if he is following the game plan that Bosio has laid out for him. When you see a guy shaking of the signs a lot you have to wonder about that.

    • Q-Ball

      I think you leave E-Jax in rotation, because Carlos hasn’t exactly been good, and Carlos has proven himself to be of value in the bullpen. E-Jax has never pitched there.

      Tough call though, because no easy answers right now on E-Jax. I really thought he would pitch better this year, because he was unlucky last year. Maybe he can still right the ship, but not if he’s not listening to his coaching. There’s a problem there, that spring training start was telling, wasn’t it?

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Everybody calls RR Happy, but I think the guy has some balls. I don’t know whether E-Jax is executing the game plan or not, but if it comes down to something like that I think he should be moved out of his slot. It was my hope that E-Jax would straighten things out so we could unload him. Just have to keep our fingers crossed.

  • another JP

    Glad to see Arreita back… Villanueva is going to be traded this summer anyway and I’d like to see what Jake can do with regular starts. Then Pierce Johnson can go to TN and that staff will really be loaded with prospects along with Edwards, Pineyro, Black, and Rivero.

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