The shuffling the Cubs did last week to the rotation thanks to the rain-induced doubleheader on Friday, and then the doubleheader yesterday that utilized two of the regular starters, left open a lot of questions about how the Cubs would approach the Cardinals series this weekend.
Cubs rotation coming up after Hendricks Thur: Haren Fri, bullpen game on Sat, Lester Sunday, Hammel Monday.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) September 16, 2015
Looking ahead to #Cubs series vs STL it will likely be Haren Friday bullpen Saturday and Lester Sunday.
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 16, 2015
Because the Cubs elected to go with their regular starters in the Pirates series (realistically, the Pirates series was slightly more important than the Cardinals series), this was pretty much the only way to handle things. That said, it’s hard to see Haren going on Friday followed immediately by a bullpen day, given that Haren’s last outing turned into a bullpen day.
Then again, Haren’s outing before that was a dominant start against the Cardinals. Maybe he’s got their number.
Given how well Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill pitched in the last bullpen day, and given how well Clayton Richard pitched in relief of Haren this weekend, I actually don’t worry too much about the bullpen day on Saturday being an automatic disaster for the Cubs. I will remain unworried if Haren can have a solid outing on Friday, leaving the Cubs plenty of options on Saturday.
I’m pretty open to bullpen days, generally, because the expanded roster lets you do it without killing the pen, and because many pitchers who would otherwise struggle as starters can be highly effective if they go just one time through the order. Then you switch it up on the other team, and they have to keep adjusting. It’s really not a bad approach when you’ve got a back of the rotation with questions anyway.