The Cubs are moving forward with the plan to add a sixth starter to the rotation. Left-hander Brian Matusz is being called up Sunday to start the finale of the three-game series against the Mariners. The Cubs optioned Justin Grimm to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Matusz on the 25-man roster. Matusz will take the open spot on the team’s 40-man roster.
Matusz signed a minor league contract in June and he appeared in five games in the Cubs system, the last two with Triple-A Iowa. Matusz made two starts for the I-Cubs and allowed two runs on seven hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.
Reports indicated that Matusz has an opt-out in his contract and the Cubs had to either call him up or risk losing him. The Cubs like what they’ve seen from Matusz.
Multiple reports indicated the Cubs will use a six-man rotation at least one time through. Based on Jake Arrieta’s comments after Saturday’s game, the five starters knew about the team’s plan and are fine with the decision.
“We’ll make the adjustment,” Arrieta said. “We’ve known about it for a little bit of time now. We use that day however we need to, to the best of our ability. Whether it’s [John] Lackey, [Jon] Lester, Hendricks, we’ll find a way to use that day to get some work done and get better and move forward. At this time of the year, every one of us might be able to refine something in that extra day.”
The Cubs have three scheduled off days between August 4 and August 15 (four total in August) and see this as a way get the starters rest that could benefit the team in the long run late in the season. The Cubs have two days off on the schedule in September and a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 16 with the Brewers.
“Try to interject that extra guy, that will give the rotation even more rest,” Joe Maddon said to Bruce Levine. “This is also about the schedule. Built-in off days are coming up. We still want to take advantage of this, knowing it is going to get really hectic, the later part of August and early September. If the opportunity is there, take advantage of it.”
The Cubs are just pushing the five starters back a day.
The Cubs are expected to start Kyle Hendricks on Monday in the opener with the Marlins at Wrigley Field. Jason Hammel and John Lackey will start Tuesday and Wednesday. Unless other changes are made, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta would start the first two games in Oakland next weekend.
Joe Maddon alluded to other things being attached to the decision during his post-game presser Saturday but did not go into detail.
The Cubs will talk more about the team’s plans for the rotation before Sunday’s game and the decision to option Justin Grimm to the minors.
Jorge Soler started for Double-A Tennessee in left field and hit second behind leadoff man Ian Happ. Soler has not gotten on track offensively. Soler was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Smokies 9-1 loss to the Lookouts.
Soler’s timing is still off and in six games with the Smokies. He is 2-for-19 with seven walks and seven strikeouts.
Veteran closer Mark Melancon is no longer in the NL Central. The Pirates traded one of the best late-inning relievers in the game to the Nationals on Saturday for LHP Felipe Rivero and LHP Taylor Hearn.
Melancon is expected to be added to the Nationals roster on Sunday and be available to Dusty Baker for the finale of the series in San Francisco.
The Nationals targeted Aroldis Chapman but were not willing to pay the price the Cubs did for him. The Nationals acquired Melancon instead.
Clint Hurdle said Tony Watson will close games for the Pirates, for now.
Dusty Baker talked to Jonathan Papelbon about Melancon. Baker said Papelbon just wants to win and is fine with Melancon closing games for the Nationals.
Bottom line, the Nationals got a lot better Saturday with the addition of Mark Melancon.
It’s not official yet, but based on numerous reports, the Indians have a new catcher.
Jonathan Lucroy was traded from the Brewers to the Indians. The teams have not announced the trade and Lucroy has to waive his no-trade rights.
Baseball America ranked Mejia (10), Chang (16) and Allen (28) in the Indians pre-season Top 30 list.
According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs were one “mystery team” in on Jonathan Lucroy. Talks did not get far because the Cubs “saw a division tax in the asking price.”
Updated 9:57am CDT – According to multiple reports, in a surprising turn of events, Jonathan Lucroy invoked his no-trade rights and vetoed the trade to the Indians.
Oscar De La Cruz
RHP Oscar De La Cruz made his first start with Low-A South Bend on Saturday … and it was a good one.
De Le Cruz completed 4 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits and a walk. De La Cruz struck out seven in a game the SB Cubs lost 2-1 to Great Lakes.
De La Cruz made 76 pitches, 50 were for strikes, and reportedly showed a lot of improvement as the game progressed.
The Cubs could really use for Oscar De La Cruz to finish the season on a positive note after he missed a majority of the year due to injuries.
The promotion from Low-A South Bend to High-A Myrtle Beach has gone well for outfielder Donnie Dewees.
Batting second and playing center field, Dewees was 4-for-5 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and two RBI. And Dewees swiped another base. That’s four for the former second round pick with the Pelicans.
In five games with Myrtle Beach, Dewees is 9-for-20 with two doubles, a home run, three walks, three strikeouts and four stolen bases (.450/.522/.700).
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joe Maddon explained why Saturday was the right day to give Anthony Rizzo a breather and start Willson Contreras at first base instead. Rizzo ended up pinch-hitting in the eighth inning and playing in the ninth.
• Saturday was a rough day for the Cubs. After scratching out a run in the seventh, the new backend of the pen wasn’t able to get out of the eighth without giving up the lead and the game. According to Comcast SportsNet the offense was mostly quiet Saturday as the bullpen blows late lead.
• Bruce Levine reported Cubs’ late-game implosion against Mariners an anomaly. The Cubs were 56-1 before Saturday when entering the eighth inning with a lead this season. And ESPN Chicago explained how the Cubs’ perfect script was flipped by Aroldis Chapman’s blown save.
• Pierce Johnson made his second relief appearance Saturday night. Johnson entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. Johnson allowed one of the three runners to score on a walk to Tony Cruz. Johnson picked up the final out and went on to pitch two scoreless innings. Johnson did not allow any hits Saturday but issued the one walk. Johnson struck out four of the eight batters he faced on 35 pitches, 24 for strikes.
• Matt Kemp was traded to the Braves on Saturday, along with a lot of money, for Hector Olivera. The Padres are expected to designate Olivera for assignment on Tuesday, the first day he is eligible to come off the restricted list.
• Rich Hill is likely to be traded before Monday’s deadline despite the fact the A’s placed the lefty on the DL. The A’s had no choice. Teams interested in Hill could work out a conditional trade with Billy Beane. In other words, agree to one player now and a small list of players the A’s would choose another one from depending on Hill’s performance.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs acquired Dan Haren and cash from the Marlins for Ivan Pineyro and Elliot Soto
2015 – Cubs acquired Tommy Hunter from the Orioles for Junior Lake
2014 – Cubs traded Emilio Bonifacio, James Russell and cash to the Braves for Victor Caratini
2012 – Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva
2010 – Cubs traded Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and cash to the Dodgers for Kyle Smit, Brett Wallach and Blake DeWitt
2006 – Cubs traded Greg Maddux to the Dodger to Cesar Izturis
2006 – Cubs traded Todd Walker to the Padres for Jose Ceda
2005 – Cubs traded Jody Gerut to the Pirates for Matt Lawton
2004 – Cubs acquired Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton in a four-team deal … The Red Sox sent Garciaparra and Murton to the Cubs. The Twins sent Doug Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox. The Expos sent Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox. The Cubs sent Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris to the Expos and sent Justin Jones to the Twins.
2002 – Cubs acquired Chad Hermansen from the Pirates for Darren Lewis
2000 – Cubs traded Henry Rodriguez to the Marlins for Dave Noyce and Ross Gload
2000 – Cubs acquired Rondell White from the Expos for Scott Downs
1999 – Braves traded Micah Bowie, Ruben Quevedo and a PTBNL to the Cubs for Jose Hernandez and Terry Mulholland. The Braves sent Joey Nation to the Cubs on Aug. 24, 1999 to complete the trade.
1998 – Cubs traded Todd Noel, Kevin Orie and Justin Speier to the Marlins for Steve Hoff and Felix Heredia
1997 – Cubs selected Dave Stevens off waivers from the Twins
1975 – Angels purchased Adrian Garrett from the Cubs
1968 – Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Jim Hickman hit longballs in the fourth inning and backed Ferguson Jenkins in a 6-1 win over the Astros at Wrigley Field.
1959 – Mike Bielecki, born
1957 – Leon Durham, born
1947 – Earl Stephenson, born
1913 – Bill Fleming, born
1910 – Len Cole pitched a seven-inning no hitter as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 4-0 in St. Louis. The game was abbreviated because both teams had to catch a train.
1901 – ‘Long Tom’ Hughes struck out 15 in 14 innings but the Chicago National League Ball Club lost to the Reds 5-4 in Cincinnati.
1892 – Art Nehf, born
1886 – Larry Doyle, born
1883 – Tuffy Stewart, born