Cubs Likely to Use a Six-Man Rotation in September

Jed Hoyer said two weeks ago the front office and coaching staff were discussing how the rotation and bullpen would be handled in September. Hoyer mentioned then the team would “do different things with the rotation” in the final month of the season.

The Cubs are not going to shut down Jake Arrieta early or apparently any of the starters such as Kyle Hendricks or Tsuyoshi Wada but as previously reported several of the pitchers on the big league staff are reaching career-high marks in innings pitched and/or appearances.

During his weekly spot on The Kap & Haugh Show (87.7 The Game), when asked about September call-ups, Jed Hoyer said the team would probably go with a six-man rotation over the final month of the season.

Rosters expand across the majors on September 1. And what that means is that any player on the Cubs 40-man roster can be recalled from the minor leagues and added to the active Major League roster. The Cubs 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players.

Felix Doubront, Dan Straily, Dallas Beeler, Blake Parker, Chris Rusin, Brian Schlitter and Arodys Vizcaino are on the 40-man roster and are currently in the minor leagues on optional assignments or a rehab assignment. Felix Doubront is scheduled to make his Cubs debut in game one of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader in St. Louis.

PrintMike Olt, Josh Vitters, Christian Villanueva and Junior Lake are also on the 40-man. Mike Olt is expected to be called up in September that is if the hamstring injury that landed him on the DL has healed enough that he can play. Junior Lake will be recalled, if nothing else to keep from losing his last minor league option. Josh Vitters broke his finger and it’s unlikely he will be up in September and Christian Villanueva is not ready for the big leagues.

Jed Hoyer indicated that the team would likely call-up more players than usual this September.

“I think it will be a fair number. We’ve had a lot of meetings over the last three or four days trying to figure it out,” Hoyer said on The Kap & Haugh Show. “It is a delicate balance with wanting to get guys experience, wanting to protect our pitchers already in the big leagues by bringing up more pitchers. There are certain guys that certainly expect a September call-up but at the same time it’s also a slippery-slope. You don’t want to add 13-14 new guys to your mix in your clubhouse. I think that is really hard on the 25 that have been here all year. It is difficult.”

“I think we will have more [September call-ups] than most years because we do want to probably go to a six-man rotation, something I think we are probably going to do,” Hoyer explained. “Have some length and may be able to ease off some of the relievers that have carried the burden this year, so it will be a lot of guys. Certainly we’ve done our best to make sure that we don’t just flood the clubhouse and make the guys that have been working hard all year feel like there is just no room at the lockers and feel like it’s over-crowded.”

The Cubs would like to take an extended look at Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner and Dan Straily in starting roles. Turner made his first start with the Cubs in Cincinnati with mixed results and is setup to stay in that spot of the rotation vacated by the Cubs placing Edwin Jackson on the DL. In order for the front office and coaching staff to be able to evaluate the pitchers properly they will have to be given an opportunity to create some semblance of a routine.

Rick Renteria and Chris Bosio will be able to use Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon sparingly and only when the Cubs are ahead late in games with the likely additions of Brian Schlitter, Blake Parker and Chris Rusin. It is unclear at this point if the Cubs plan on recalling Dallas Beeler and Arodys Vizcaino in September. Both pitchers missed significant time last year due to injury, in Vizcaino’s case the past two seasons, and the Cubs might decide to let their seasons end after Iowa plays its last game.

The Cubs have not addressed how long Edwin Jackson, Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano will be on the disabled list. Jackson said he would be able to return before the end of the season, and if he is activated from the DL, his role on the pitching staff could determine how many innings are left for the other pitchers the Cubs would like to evaluate in September. As for Sweeney and Ruggiano, the two outfielders could be out for a while. Sweeney strained his left hamstring and Ruggiano is having his ankle examined by a specialist in Dallas.

The Cubs pitching picture for the last month of the season will start coming into focus early next week.

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  • Tony_H

    Not saying there aren’t drawbacks, but I see a lot of benefit to a 6 man rotation over the course of a season if you have 6 major league SP’s or a 6th young arm you want to ease in to a full season.

    • Swish23

      considering the massive amount of TJ surgeries; I would think teams should start to look at mini-6 man rotations; where the top 2 guys give you 32-34 starts; the next 2 28-30, and rotate 2 other SP around 20; skipping guys along the way so in the June-July months SP get a 6 day break occiasionally to finish strong. maybe 200 IP needs to the top end.
      with next year not being a playoff team for the cubs; even if Lester gets signed, with Hendricks, Wood, Ejax (or Minor), Turner, Straily, Beeler, Wada, Arrieta, Cubs could try it. Definitely seems like Kershaw; who had a short DL stint; is very “fresh” at this time of year/

      • Tony_H

        Stop the presses, we actually agree on something!

        As you say, even the TOR guys can benefit from being skipped or extra days.

        Kershaw has been great this year and does seem to be dominating every time out.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Cubs fans should hope Olt and Lake hit .400 and slug HRs like crazy when they return…they would be good trade-bait / trade-fillers in acquiring SP or top SP prospects this offseason.

    • daverj

      After the way they performed from April through June, neither of them will bring much back this offseason no matter how they perform in September.

      • BosephHeyden

        If they perform exceptionally well in September, it’s not a hard sell to say that the trip to the minors was to tweak mechanics and boost their confidence and that it worked. Besides that, they’re two young bats with decent potential. If they show they can live up to that potential, if even for a month, they become good trade pieces, but not really possessing any individual trade value.

        Of course, the way Valbuena has played this season won’t help Olt, so he’s probably not going to do much better than he did this season, since he’ll be riding a fair amount of bench. Lake will benefit, though, with Ruggiano and Sweeny not available.

  • Ray Koenig

    Rizzo out for the Cubs, Molina back for the Cards. Could be a tough one.

    • SuzyS

      Back problems, no matter how minor they appear at first, are never a good thing. I hope Rizzo is not out that long…but more importantly, Rizzo and the Cubs need to take the necessary time to heal whatever is wrong…so it doesn’t become a chronic problem.

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