Yu Darvish Didn't Throw This Weekend, No Six-Man Rotation Whenever He Returns

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Yu Darvish Didn’t Throw This Weekend, No Six-Man Rotation Whenever He Returns

Chicago Cubs

You know, it’s generally a safe bet when Cubs say they hope a guy might throw this weekend or early next week, he ain’t throwing this weekend. I don’t offer that as a criticism of the Cubs, because whatever, I’m just saying that it’s best to align your hopes and expectations in these situations.

That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to see this come out about Yu Darvish’s rehab process this weekend:

Darvish, who is out with triceps inflammation (not a catastrophic elbow injury, which is a win in my book), was always likely to miss at least two starts, the second of which would have been Sunday or this coming Tuesday, depending on how the rotation would have been shuffled. As it stands, his next time up in the rotation would be this coming Friday.

… but, as expected, the Cubs have already announced Mike Montgomery as the probable to start that one against the Pirates. Once Darvish starts throwing, hopefully this week, he may not need a rehab start in the minors before coming back to the big league team. But if he has to miss another start beyond this Friday, then I’d be more inclined to say it’s going to take a rehab start to get him ramped back up and tested out in real-ish conditions.

To be sure, though, the Cubs have not announced any kind of timetable for Darvish’s return, and we’ll just have to check back in when we learn that he’s throwing.

Meanwhile, Joe Maddon already put the kibosh on my hoped-for six-man rotation when Darvish returns, telling Cubs.com: “With everybody healthy, [a six-man rotation] is probably not going to happen. There’s also ways if you want to give somebody a rest to insert a sixth starter.”

In other words, although the Cubs might slide in a sixth starter here and there as they’ve done the last couple years, a dedicated six-man rotation for a long stretch is not currently in the plans. I remain of the mind that doing that for a solid month would be an excellent way to (1) keep Montgomery in the rotation, where he could offer more valuable innings than as the 5th or 6th option in the bullpen, (2) give extra rest to the other starting pitchers, which could improve their health and effectiveness in the short AND long-term, and (3) reduce the heavy, heavy reliance on the bullpen by having the starting pitchers work a little deeper.

I think, given the Cubs’ unique mix of starters, relievers, and Montgomery, they would actually be better with a six-man rotation – both in terms of the immediate results, and the value it would provide in August, September, and October, as arms are fresher.

I have to admit, though, that most of that is theoretical. They are good theories, many supported by data, but just theories nonetheless. Moreover, there is a human side to having starting pitchers start working on different regular rest (even if it’s more) than they’re used to. I can’t claim to know whether everyone would take to the plan in such a way as to make it actually more effective than the traditional five-man rotation. I’m just a dude pecking away on a computer.

Until Darvish starts throwing, of course, this is all academic anyway.

When he does return, the Cubs will probably just move Montgomery back into the bullpen, though I suppose there is an outside chance that if he’s still pitching very well, and if Tyler Chatwood completely loses all control again, there could be a changeup with those two. I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s at least possible. It’s also possible that someone else gets hurt by then, and Montgomery just keeps on starting anyway.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.