According to multiple reports, the Cubs have decided to start the season with Carlos Villanueva in the rotation. Villanueva will slot in behind Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. Villanueva’s first start will be on April 6 against the Phillies.
Chris Rusin was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and will begin his season in the minors after a solid Spring Training.
The Cubs plan on keeping Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood on a five-day cycle. Villanueva is used to adjusting his routine to fit his team’s need. Rusin will start every five days in what has a chance to be a good rotation in Iowa.
Having Carlos Villanueva begin the season in the rotation is a smart move. The Cubs will be able to keep Villanueva stretched out which should increase his value to another team looking to fill holes in their rotation.
The final three spots in the pen are not set. As previously reported, it was thought that Justin Grimm, Alberto Cabrera and Hector Rondon would take the last three spots in the pen if Rusin was sent to Iowa to start the season. That is not the case. Jed Hoyer said Friday morning that the Cubs could recall one of the relievers they have already optioned down or reassigned to the minors. The Cubs have three pitchers that will start the season on the DL (Jake Arrieta, Kyuji Fujikawa and James McDonald) and the front office could use the rules to their advantage to recall a reliever to take the place of a pitcher placed on the disabled list.
The 25-man roster is almost set … just three spots in the bullpen that has to be determined.