Yu Darvish threw yet another bullpen session prior to Friday’s game in Cincinnati and he looks to be in line for a rehab start as early as Monday. The Cubs will wait to see how he feels Saturday, but it’s been all systems go since he started throwing again in Milwaukee about a week and a half ago.
Even if Darvish needs a couple turns in the minors to get right, he’d be in line for a July 4 start against the Tigers at Wrigley. A single tune-up could have him back for the Twins at the end of June, though that seems unlikely at this point. Then again, both the rotation and the bullpen could use a little freshness in light of the compressed schedule of late.
Along those lines, Joe Maddon announced during his pregame talk with Ron Coomer that Luke Farrell would indeed be getting the ball to start Saturday’s game. The Cubs also got Brian Duensing back from the bereavement list, giving them an extra arm that is not only fresh but also experienced.
Justin Hancock was optioned back to AAA to make room for Duensing, while Rob Zastryzny remained on the 25-man roster to provide a little length when the Cubs inevitably need it Saturday afternoon. The lefty has gone more than one inning on 11 occasions for the I-Cubs and came on to throw two innings of relief when the Cubs had to call on Jen-Ho Tseng for an emergency start in May.
In other bullpen news, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow both threw to varying degrees Friday in Cincy. The former was on flat ground and should move to the mound later this weekend, while the latter just played a little catch to keep his arm loose. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.
No word on whether Morrow has switched to tear-away pants in an effort to remain healthy moving forward.
Finally, Maddon announced that Tyler Chatwood is the tentative primary option for Sunday’s start. With his wife expecting any day now, having Chatwood take the bump would allow him to stay behind in Chicago rather than make the trip to LA when the Cubs head west after the finale with the Reds.
More than a few fans will no doubt question why Mike Montgomery is getting the ball to close the series, but Maddon and the Cubs are thinking bigger picture. That starts with Chatwood and his family obligations and extends to the shape of the rotation and the Cubs’ opponents. While the Reds have proven to be a bit trickier than expected, you’d rather have Monty’s hot hand ready for the Dodgers in LA.
And, boy, isn’t it fun to see the Cubs running in sand against the Reds at a time when they really could have used some sure footing? I know I am enjoying the absolute hell out of it. Except not.