After 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 -
#Cubs Arrieta will make rehab start Monday for Daytona not Iowa. Hopes that's last in minors
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 19, 2014