Hopefully if you’re in the path a storm today, you stay safe. And for those of you who faced the really scary stuff yesterday, I hope you’re doing all right.
- After somewhat surprisingly announcing that Jake Arrieta would return to the rotation on Wednesday, the rain in Cincinnati last night has changed things once again. Now the Cubs’ 28-year-old right-hander who was slowed by shoulder stiffness in Spring Training will have his start bumped back to something closer to what it was expected to be in the first place. Jeff Samardzija will go tonight, with Edwin Jackson following tomorrow. The Cubs have an off-day thereafter, so slotting Arrieta in on Friday would mean bumping Jason Hammel and Travis Wood back two days from their normal schedule. It’s possible that the Cubs will instead elect to have Arrieta go on Sunday, with a side session in between now and then.
- For his part, Arrieta is champing at the bit to get out there and make his 2014 debut (Cubs.com). Doing your own version of Spring Training traipsing around from minor league location to minor league location isn’t quite the same thing as gearing up with all of your teammates and heading out to start the season in Chicago.
- And for his part, Carlos Villanueva, the man Arrieta will replace in the rotation, is ready to head back to the bullpen, where he thinks he can have a lot of success (and, indeed, he has had a lot of success there over the last few years). “I’ve done well in short spurts,” Villanueva told Cubs.com. “The problem with me has been facing the lineup a couple times over.” Anecdotally, it’s something we’ve noticed this year – Villanueva’s stuff plays well the first or second time through the order, but, by the time guys are seeing him for the third time that day, they’re on him. His splits this year back that up: for his career, when he’s starting, guys hit just .239/.307/.416 off of him the first time through the order. By the third time through, those have climbed all the way to All-Star levels: .321/.363/.533.
- For today’s and tomorrow’s games in Cincinnati, the Cubs will essentially have a nine-man bullpen, two more than is typical. That’s because they already went to eight relievers when Justin Ruggiano was injured, and now they’ll have Carlos Villanueva available to pitch out of the pen. I say one pitcher per batter for the final two innings each day.
- With Brian Schlitter being the last man added to the pen (replacing Jose Veras, who went on the DL with an oblique issue (phrasing)), he’s the best bet to be sent back to Iowa when Arrieta is officially activated.
- Len and JD came in 5th in Awful Announcing’s poll of the top local broadcast teams in MLB, which is neat. Is that kind of a silly poll, given the market sizes and fan bases involved? Probably. But the Cubs were on top of the Yankees and Red Sox crews, for example, so it’s not just about the volume of participation. Len and JD are pretty good in my book, maybe needing only a little bit more time to settle into a rhythm (I’ll confess, I really disliked the Kasper/Brenly pair for several years, before I grew to love it – it just takes a little time, I guess). It wouldn’t hurt if they had a few wins to call every now and again, too.
- Jesse Rogers wonders whether Jeff Samardzija’s hot start to the season could change the extension situation … and everyone with whom he spoke said nah. Matt Garza’s sage advice to Samardzija: pitch your way off of the Cubs. Nice. Garza added that he thinks he lost 30 would-have-been wins because he was pitching for the Cubs, a remark that David Schoenfield points out is obviously not literally accurate.
- A Tribune profile on Ryan Kalish, who sounds pretty much thrilled to be on the field these days.
- For those who thought BN was the only place that faced intermittent commenting issues, Hardball Talk just had the same “don’t be an asshole or else” conversation with its commenters.