So, pretty slow day in the world of sporpsballs, huh? Well, unless, as Jeff Passan put it, you happened to be one of the folks in Chicago’s little corner of the world who got excited about Denzel Valentine shoving a teammate in a summer league game. Wait, no, that’s not right.
The revered Yahoo scribe was actually talking about the blockbuster trade for Jose Quintana by a team that *opens new window, consults Baseball Reference and other reputable sites to confirm hazy memory* WON THE WORLD SERIES LAST YEAR. Dude, the Cubs and their struggles this season have been kinda-sorta big news in the baseball world. Which I know because I am totally immersed in Cubdom. Shoot, that actually hurts my credibility here.
Anyway, the point is that it’s disingenuous and more than a little hot-takey to throw out a pithy little proclamation like that. And I wouldn’t care but for the fact that I really respect Passan and his work. He’s got a bent toward the irreverent, though, so perhaps he was just tweaking some folks.
Whether people outside of Chicago care or not, it’s going to be a pretty big deal for Cubs fans when Quintana takes the mound in blue for the first time this Sunday.
Cubs rotation out of break: Montgomery, Arrieta, Quintana @ BAL; Lester, Lackey, Montgomery @ ATL; Hendricks makes rehab start Mon w/ Tenn
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 13, 2017
It had already been announced that Mike Montgomery would be getting the ball in the first game after the break, but the rest of the rotation hinged upon Kyle Hendricks’ availability. Notably absent from that set is Eddie Butler, whose luck may have finally run out. The Cubs will have a little finagling to do with the roster now that Quintana is being added and John Lackey is being activated.
That presumably means either Butler or Dylan Floro being sent back to Iowa, with the other possibly following when Hendricks is reactivated. Or maybe Tommy La Stella heads back down. I really haven’t gone through and crafted my thoughts on this, but the Cubs won’t need to work out the latter of those moves until at least next Saturday, which is when Hendricks could first rejoin the rotation after his Monday rehab start with the Smokies.
His most recent start went quite well, though he only threw 45 pitches and sat in the low 80’s most of the evening. The velo may have been due to what is reportedly a slow Smokies Stadium gun, though it could have also been Hendricks taking it easy in his first live action in a month. Either way, the acquisition of Quintana gives the Cubs a little leeway to stretch last year’s ERA champ out just a bit more.
As much as most Cubs fans would like to see Lackey as the odd man out in the second half, I can’t imagine that happening. Big John has been really rough so far, but he’s tossed quality starts in three of his last four times out and is still capable of holding down the back end of the rotation. Then Montgomery can transition back to the pen, where he doesn’t need to worry about turning lineups over.
Whatever ends up happening, the Cubs’ rotation is going to look very different come late July than it did heading into the break. And that’s a very good thing.