Well, this doesn’t do much to clarify the situation at the back of the rotation that I raised in the Bullets this morning, but it does explain why there has been some confusion about who starts when.
In advance of today’s games, the Cubs will designate lefty Clayton Richard for assignment to open up a spot on the 25-man roster for reliever Yoervis Medina, who comes up from Iowa, according to multiple reports (Mark Gonzales, Patrick Mooney, Gordon Wittenmyer). Medina was already on the 40-man roster, which now stands at 39, but the DFA was the only way to remove Richard, who does not have any minor league options left. The Cubs now have 10 days to waive, trade, or release Richard. A trade is not impossible, given the time of year, and Richard’s demonstration that he can still be a 5/6/7-type starter at the big league level (just don’t expect anything of consequence coming back). If Richard is waived, it would be surprising to see him clear waivers, but it’s possible. If he is, the Cubs could try to outright him to Iowa, but he would have to choose that over free agency. And it’s possible he would. In case you need a summary: lot’s of outcomes here are possible.
While I did assume the Cubs would bring up a relief arm for today’s twin-bill after a 13-inning affair last night (and quite a few relievers used on Monday, too), I’ll concede that I didn’t think DFA’ing Richard was the way they would open up the spot.
On the one hand, Richard’s time in the Cubs’ rotation was presumably coming to an end at some point soon – Tsuyoshi Wada is nearing the end of his rehab stint, and the Cubs are also expected to add a starting pitcher via trade in the next 10 days. On the other hand, the Cubs’ emergency depth situation was already borderline dire, and now they’re going to risk losing Richard, too? Having already lost Donn Roach on waivers?
Here’s the thing, though: the Cubs’ front office is very smart, and they’ve got a lot more information about what’s going on with their expected roster than I do. So, if they’re risking losing Richard right now at this moment (rather than, for example, risking losing Taylor Teagarden), they must feel comfortable not only with guys like Wada and Dallas Beeler and Drake Britton and Carlos Pimentel as depth, they must also feel comfortable that another starter is coming soon. For now, I’d expect that Beeler will be tentatively listed as the new 5th starter (tomorrow’s off-day allows the Cubs to go with Jason Hammel on Sunday so that Beeler could go on Monday on normal rest; but the Cubs might just skip that spot altogether for one time through the rotation).
Wada, who struggled yesterday, may need another AAA start. And, by then, it’s possible neither he nor Beeler will be in the rotation.