MILWAUKEE – In rapid succession, the Cubs are getting good looks at three pitchers whose immediate futures could be settled within a month’s time.
All three may end up playing big roles down the stretch, or their performances may force team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to look for more help from outside the organization.
First things first.
Right-hander Tyler Chatwood was unimpressive again Tuesday night during a 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. The Brewers took over first place in the National League Central by one-half game over the Cubs, whose batters managed only two hits against Chase Anderson and the Brewers’ bullpen.
Chatwood gave up four runs over the first three innings. He also committed a throwing error and was involved in a botched rundown during Milwaukee’s two-run third.
The control issues that have plagued Chatwood weren’t there as prominently as they had been in previous starts. He lasted five innings, giving up five hits, two walks and four runs (three earned).
Earlier in the day, Epstein watched Yu Darvish throw a bullpen session as he rehabs from right-triceps tendinitis. In Wednesday’s series finale, lefty Mike Montgomery will get another start, as he has taken Darvish’s spot in the rotation and pitched well.
When Darvish gets back, the Cubs will have decisions to make.
Do they leave Montgomery in the rotation and move Chatwood to the bullpen? If Darvish suffers a setback, will Epstein and Hoyer seek another arm for the playoff push?
“That doesn’t hinge on any one player specifically or any two or three players,” Epstein said. “It’s really just about the team, how we’re playing, what areas we look to shore up and even beyond the 25 guys, where we think we have enough depth and where we think we could use more depth.
“It’s still too early to make that assessment. There are some years where it’s obvious you’re going to go out and you need to make a move, or there’s a certain area you know you’re going to try to address. With this group, as talented and as deep as we are in most areas, it’s more about observation and maintenance and trying to stay ahead of the depth areas.
“We really have to make sure we stay ahead of the starting pitching depth. But that’s really as a contingency. It’s not like we’re looking to get someone and force them into this rotation.”
Travis Shaw put the Brewers up, 2-0, in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run double.
Christian Yelich led off the Brewers’ third with a walk. He went to second on Chatwood’s throwing error on an attempted pickoff. Lorenzo Cain reached first base on a fielder’s choice.
The Cubs had Yelich caught between second and third in a rundown. Cain made it to second and ran back to first unchallenged as Yelich got back to second safely as Chatwood and the Cubs messed up the rundown.
Shaw followed with his second two-run double.
“From my standpoint, I felt a lot better, more consistent,” said Chatwood, who is 3-5 with a 3.98 ERA. “The last outing (seven walks against Philadelphia) wasn’t pretty. But I felt I built off some stuff, and I took it into this outing.”