I am very on board with these pitching decisions right here, and it’ll be good to have these guys back.
The big pitching news today from Cubs manager David Ross:
Ross: Chatwood will be activated to start Tuesday's game in Detroit. Quintana will be activated and added to the bullpen.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 24, 2020
Chatwood (back) to return from IL to start Tuesday in Detroit.
Quintana (thumb) to join active roster for first time this season, will open his season in bullpen (with eye toward possible start in Cincinnati, when Cubs will have to cover a doubleheader Saturday).
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) August 24, 2020
Chatwood was looking mighty good in the early going before his back injury, and I don’t really see the reason to move him out of the rotation if he’s physically well again. And with Quintana ramping back up having missed the start of the season (thumb), it’s fine to utilize his arm out of the pen, where he can give the Cubs length AND a second lefty option.
For me, if Chatwood is good to go for Tuesday, I say you start him and put Quintana in the bullpen. Heck, even if Chatwood isn’t ready, I’d be mighty tempted to let Adbert Alzolay take that start and still have Quintana available out of the bullpen ….
But back to Quintana as a reliever. We’ve seen how valuable multi-inning “reliever/quasi-starters” can be for years with the Brewers. When four of your starting pitchers are righties, you can really give the other team a totally different look, quickly, if necessary to make a switch in the 3rd or 4th or 5th. What if a guy like Mills is solid going through the lineup twice, but you’re at your best when you can take him out after that, even if it’s only the 4th or 5th inning? What if a guy like Chatwood is ready to start on Tuesday, but because he’s missed so much time, you want to limit him to 60 pitches? What if it’s Alzolay, and you want to limit his exposure?
Moreover, in a bullpen with only Kyle Ryan available from the left side, it just makes so much sense to have another lefty available. Sometimes, it could be those long outings, but hey, who’s to say Quintana can’t succeed in this weird year as just a fastball/curveball one-inning reliever?
For the immediate future, I like the idea of Chatwood being able to give you 50-60 pitches as he eases his way back in, and then flip the ball over to Quintana, who gives the batters an entirely different look, and he might be able to give you the next 50-60 pitches (with neither guy facing the lineup more than twice). I’m not saying you intentionally set up a piggyback situation here for any longer than just tomorrow, but it could work nicely tomorrow.
After that, Quintana contributes out of the pen and/or makes that spot start for the doubleheader. I really think it’s going to be nice to have his arm available in a flexible role.
As for Chatwood, you just hope he’s healthy now, and the time away didn’t impact the way he was commanding his pitches and the nasty movement on his cutter.
Meanwhile, the Cubs will have to open up two spots on the roster for these guys upon their return. So stay tuned on that. Might depend a little bit at the margins on how tonight’s game plays out.