Brett Anderson left his last start with the Cubs after giving up five earned runs on six hits, and recording just one out.
After signing an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Cubs, and being inserted into the rotation out of Spring Training, Anderson had more duds than good outings, and gave up 12 earned runs in just 1.2 innings over his final two starts before hitting the disabled list. Overall, he’s got a 8.18 ERA, a 4.40 FIP, and a 4.30 xFIP over 22.0 innings.
But as for that last start, his departure in the first inning – and perhaps the many hits that preceded it – was due to back discomfort. He’s’ been on the disabled list since.
After back surgery last year, and a career laced with injuries before that, it was no surprise to learn that Anderson was feeling something in his back, whether it was just this last start, or perhaps for longer than that. The hope is that the back trouble (1) can clear up, and (2) explains the majority of his struggles so far this season.
To that end, Anderson will throw a bullpen session today, and the Cubs will evaluate from there, though Joe Maddon doesn’t think it will be long before Anderson could be ready (Cubs.com). If and when that comes, it remains to be seen what the Cubs would do with the fifth starter spot in their rotation.
Eddie Butler looked like he might runaway with the fifth starter gig after his debut in St. Louis, but a command-less start last week at Wrigley Field has thrown that more into question. He’ll start again on Thursday against the Giants, and the outing could impact how the Cubs elect to proceed with the rotation. It remains possible that, even after Anderson is ready to return, the Cubs could go with six starters for a couple passes if they wanted.
For now, though, none of that really comes into question until Anderson establishes that he is healthy and can once again be effective.