Cubs Go With a Six-Man Rotation, a Tentative Schedule and Other News and Notes

The Cubs announced on Tuesday that they will be using a six-man rotation the next two times through the rotation. The addition of Scott Baker will help limit innings for Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood without shutting either pitcher down early.

Scott Baker has been inserted into the rotation and will start on Saturday in the third game of the four-game series in Pittsburgh. Baker is scheduled to make his final start on September 20 in the opener against the Braves at Wrigley. Following Baker’s last scheduled start, the Cubs will finish the year with a five-man rotation with Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood starting two of the final three games of the year in St. Louis.

According to a report from Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs “plan to look at Scott Baker as a possible extension candidate this winter.” The Cubs’ rotation, going into next season, appears to be Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson, unless one of the pitchers is moved this off-season, which leaves at least two spots open and depth to fill. Jake Arrieta, Carlos Villanueva and Chris Rusin figure to be in the mix next season, as well as Kyle Hendricks. According to multiple reports, the Cubs are not sure at this point if Justin Grimm fits better as a starter or a reliever. The Cubs are expected to “target more arms this winter.”

But for now, the Cubs rotation order appears to be: Jeff Samardzija, Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta, Scott Baker, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson.

2014 Cubs Schedule

Major League Baseball released tentative schedules for the 2014 season on Tuesday … and Dale Sveum’s Chicago Cubs will open the 2014 campaign in Pittsburgh on March 31. Following the three-game series against the Pirates, the Cubs host the Phillies for the home opener on Friday April 4.

The 2014 season is the 100th year for Wrigley Field, which was known as Weeghman Park when it first opened on April 23, 1914. Weeghman Park was home of the Chicago Whales of the Federal League before the Cubs played their first game at the corner of Clark and Addison on April 20, 1916. The field was later renamed Cubs Park before being named Wrigley Field in 1926.

The Cubs play the American League East in 2014 and will host the Yankees for two games (May 20-May 21) and both the Orioles (August) and Rays (August) for three games. The Cubs play two games in the Bronx in April and travel to Toronto (September) and Boston (June 30, July 1-July 2) for three games. The battle for the Crosstown Cup will take place in early May. The Cubs host the Sox for two games (May 5-May 6) then travel to the South Side (May 7-May 8) to wrap up the four-game series.

The Cubs wrap up the season on September 28 with the last of three games in Milwaukee.

Javier Baez, Prospects and the AFL

Jed Hoyer told Jesse Rogers that Javier Baez put together as good a minor league season that he’s seen, especially for a 20-year old. Baez hit 39 home runs between Daytona, Tennessee and the playoffs while showing a lot of improvement along the way in the field and at the plate. Baez figures to be in the mix for minor league player of the year and is taking a breather before the Arizona Fall League begins on October 8.

According to the report from ESPN Chicago, Hoyer said that Baez is “still probably not ready to make the big league club out of Spring Training next year.”

Jed Hoyer sung the praises of the pitching performances turned out by C.J. Edwards, Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro since being added to the organization in July.

Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are on track to participate in the AFL as they recover from injuries. And he reiterated that Javier Baez and Kris Bryant will likely see time at other positions this fall, especially Baez. Hoyer wants Baez to get playing time at third base and second base and for Bryant to see time in the outfield.

News and Notes

Starlin Castro and Aramis Ramirez spent time together while the Brewers were at Wrigley over the weekend. Ramirez believes Castro “is being made a scapegoat for many of the team’s problems, with every mistake magnified by the fans and media alike” according to a report from the Tribune. Ramirez thinks Castro will be okay, pointed out he’s only 23 years old and added that Castro is not the only player “struggling over there” and “not doing what they’re supposed to be doing right now.”

Jake Arrieta is stuck in neutral according to ESPN Chicago.

Sean Marshall told Comcast SportsNet that he believes the Cubs will win and their master plan to build the organization is on target.

Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro are the first Cubs’ catching duo to record multi-homer games in the same season since Jody Davis and Damon Berryhill in 1988.

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