Is Jake Arrieta coming to Chicago this week?
Well, Dude, we just don’t know.
Arrieta pitched for the Daytona Cubs last night in what could prove to be his final rehab start (shoulder stiffness in Spring Training), going 5.2 innings and reaching his pitch limit. That limit was supposed to be right around 100 pitches, though his pitch total from yesterday’s start hasn’t been published.
In those 5.2 innings, Arrieta gave up five runs on five hits and two walks. Among those five hits were three homers, but it sounds like a couple of them were helped by some gusts of wind, though (MiLB.com). Arrieta also struck out seven, which is swell.
But the question remains: is Arrieta now set to make his debut with the Cubs? That’s been the expectation, but Ricky Renteria held open the possibility that Arrieta would make one more rehab start before coming to the Cubs (Cubs.com). Indeed, Carrie Muskat said last night that another rehab start is likely.
Assuming Carlos Villanueva’s is the spot Arrieta will take, there was already a bit of a hangnail in lining up Arrieta’s return this week – Villanueva is scheduled to start on Friday, and Arrieta won’t have five days of rest until Saturday. The Cubs don’t have an off-day until after the next five day stretch after Saturday, so there’s no help there, either. Unless the Cubs want to pitch with a short bullpen, they aren’t going to be able to throw Villanueva and Arrieta in successive days. They could call up Chris Rusin for a spot-start, or they could have Arrieta throw on the side, rather than making a full start, so that he can sub in for Villanueva the next time through the rotation.
We’ll probably get a signal on the plan in the next few days. Either way, we’ll see Arrieta back in the rotation by the end of April, and we will likely see Villanueva heading to the bullpen (bouncing … Blake Parker?).