MLB Team Report - Chicago Cubs - INSIDE PITCH
Changes are occurring to both the Cubs' rotation and bullpen.
The relief corps overhaul might be complete for the moment. Right-handers Matt Guerrier and Pedro Strop, acquired in trades Tuesday, joined the team in Oakland on Wednesday to fill middle-relief roles.
Guerrier came from the Dodgers in exchange for right-hander Carlos Marmol, as each team sent away a reliever who previously designated for assignment. Strop arrived along with right-handed starter Jake Arrieta from the Orioles in a deal that sent right-handed starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to Baltimore.
Feldman was scheduled to start Tuesday night's series opener at Oakland, but the traded was completed earlier in the day. The Cubs recalled lefty Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa to start, and he worked 3 1/3 innings in an 8-7 loss to the Athletics.
Rusin, who 2-3 with a 6.37 ERA in seven starts with the Cubs last season, was promptly optioned back to Iowa, where he'll be joined in the rotation by Arrieta.
The Cubs cleared the other roster spot they needed by designating right-handed reliever Shawn Camp for assignment. Camp, 37, was 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA in 26 appearances this year, and he has a 14.63 career ERA at Wrigley Field.
The next time Feldman's spot comes up in the rotation, right-hander Carlos Villanueva is the favorite to get the ball. Villanueva began the season as a starting pitcher, and he moved to the bullpen when Matt Garza came off the disabled list in May. General manager Jed Hoyer said the Cubs would get Villanueva stretched out again to start. Villanueva worked 2 2/3 innings against the A's on Tuesday as that stretching-out process got under way.
There could be more trades in the offing -- Garza could be the next to go -- so the pitching staff might remain a work in progress.
MLB Team Report - Chicago Cubs - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
PAST 10 GAMES: 6-4
NEXT: Cubs (Travis Wood, 5-6, 2.85) at A's (Dan Straily, 4-2, 5.00)
--LHP Travis Wood loves facing left-handed hitters. They've hit just .122 against him this season, Unfortunately, he won't find many when he takes the mound in Oakland on Thursday in the series finale against the A's. No team platoons more than Oakland. A's manager Bob Melvin sent just one lefty (RF Josh Reddick) to the plate against Cubs LHP Chris Rusin in the series opener Tuesday. It's possible Wood won't even see Reddick on Thursday. Melvin chose to use regular CF Coco Crisp as the designated hitter as a precautionary measure Tuesday, meaning fourth OF Chris Young had to play center field and Reddick was stuck in right. But Crisp was back in the outfield Wednesday, and if he's there again Thursday, that means Young could move to right field and give the A's an all-righty lineup to throw at Wood. Here's the good news for Wood: Even righties (.218) don't hit so well against him.
--RHP Jake Arrieta was the key acquisition when the Cubs dealt one of their most dependable starting pitchers, RHP Scott Feldman, to the Orioles on Tuesday. So why did the Cubs sent Arrieta immediately to Triple-A Iowa? To protect their asset, of course. Arrieta was such a promising prospect in the Baltimore organization, he earned the Opening Day start in just his second season in the bigs. That was 2011, and he went on to win 10 games that season. But it's been pretty much downhill ever since, prompting the pennant-chasing Orioles to deal his potential for Feldman's consistency. The Cubs are hoping the 27-year-old can work out his problems against Triple-A competition and become a mainstay in the big club's rotation before the end of this season.
--RHP Pedro Strop wasn't even with the Cubs on Tuesday night and yet already Chicago manager Dale Sveum was envisioning him on the mound. You see, Sveum had a dilemma in the eighth inning of a 7-5 game against the A's. With the potential tying runs on base and two outs, Sveum could stick with LHP James Russell to face light-hitting A's C Derek Norris, or he could bring in RHP Hector Rondon, understanding that probably would prompt A's counterpart Bob Melvin to pinch hit either 1B Brandon Moss or OF Seth Smith. If Sveum had Strop, who feasted on such situations in the Orioles' drive to the playoffs last season, no doubt he'd have called upon the right-hander and taken his chances with Moss or Smith. Instead, he stuck with Russell and, one mistake later, the A's had an 8-7 win. Having pitched just once since June 23, Strop was fresh and ready for action Wednesday when he joined the Cubs. However, starting pitching Matt Garza was so strong, all Strop did was warm up.
--RHP Matt Guerrier is the type of luxury a good bullpen can have. The veteran, acquired from the Dodgers in exchange for RHP Carlos Marmol on Tuesday, has been a dependable seventh- and eighth-inning reliever in his career. With the Cubs also having acquired RHP Pedro Strop on Tuesday, the plan is to use the versatile Guerrier earlier in games. As experienced as they come -- he's been in 513 games with a respectable 3.54 ERA -- Guerrier could turn into the club's chief long reliever, maybe a spot starter, or perhaps even fall back into his most common role as a setup man should Strop fail. Guerrier warmed up during Wednesday's 3-1 win over the A's but wasn't used.
--LHP Chris Rusin was fed to the sharks Tuesday night. Not surprisingly, he got eaten alive. Summoned from Triple-A Iowa earlier in the day to fill a spot vacated by the trade of Tuesday's scheduled starter, RHP Scott Feldman, Rusin became the first left-handed pitcher to start against the A's in more than two weeks. Suffice it to say, Oakland's platoon-happy lineup was happy to see him. Rusin got hit much harder than three runs in 3 1/3 innings would indicate. Cubs management obviously noticed. Even though the Cubs don't exactly have someone ready to take Feldman's spot in the rotation full-time, Rusin was returned to Iowa just 24 hours after he was promoted. Based on those 3 1/3 innings, and the fact the Cubs sent projected major league rotation mainstay RHP Jake Arrieta to Iowa after acquiring him Tuesday, it's unlikely Rusin will get the call next time the big club needs an emergency starter.
--RHP Shawn Camp has a 14.63 career ERA at Wrigley Field. Obvious conclusion: He's probably not a good pitcher for the Cubs. Buoyed by the addition of two relievers in trades Tuesday, Cubs management decided Wednesday to part ways with Camp, designated him for assignment. Giving up the game-losing single in Seattle on Friday night and then three runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Sunday put Camp on the hot seat. The Cubs are now hoping someone who saw him early in the season, when he went 10 consecutive road games without allowing a run, inquires about possibly acquiring him in a trade. Hey, it worked with RHP Carlos Marmol.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's as good as I've seen him. He had exceptional command of his fastball, and he had a little extra when he needed it." -- Manager Dale Sveum, on RHP Matt Garza, who threw eight strong innings Wednesday in the Cubs' 3-1 win over the A's.
MLB Team Report - Chicago Cubs - ROSTER REPORT
--OF Ryan Sweeney (fractured left rib) went on 60-day disabled list June 30.
--CF David DeJesus (sprained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list June 14. He began light exercises in late June, and he's expected to be out until mid-July.
--RHP Zach Putnam (right elbow soreness) went on the 15-day disabled list June 12, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 28. He has been bothered by bone spurs, confirmed by an MRI.
--RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (ruptured ulnar collateral ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list May 27, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 30. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery June 11.
--RHP Rafael Dolis (strained right forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 27.
--RHP Scott Baker (Tommy John surgery in April 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 31. He started a throwing program April 29. There is no timetable for his return.
--RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 27. He underwent an arthroscopic cleanup of his surgically repaired right elbow in late May.
RHP Jeff Samardzija
RHP Edwin Jackson
LHP Travis Wood
RHP Matt Garza
RHP Kevin Gregg (closer)
LHP James Russell
RHP Hector Rondon
RHP Pedro Strop
RHP Matt Guerrier
RHP Carlos Villanueva
RHP Blake Parker
RHP Henry Rodriguez
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Darwin Barney
SS Starlin Castro
3B Luis Valbuena
INF Cody Ransom
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Brian Bogusevic
RF Nate Schierholtz
OF Scott Hairston
OF Julio Borbon
OF Dave Sappelt