Decisions have been made. The Cubs will start Tyler Chatwood on Tuesday against Detroit, and Jose Quintana will make his return from a thumb injury out of the bullpen.
“The goal is first to get a look at [Quintana],” manager David Ross said. “He’s been stretched out, so we’ve got some length down there in the 'pen. As he builds up, we’ve got some doubleheaders coming up so we’ll kind of navigate that on who’s pitching well and kind of take that as it goes. We understand he’s a starter option for us moving forward if we need that.”
Quintana does have some experience in the bullpen. He had a few relief appearances during his rookie season with the White Sox in 2012, then tossed four innings of relief early last year in Texas.
“I’ve been in the bullpen a couple times, so it’s not new for me,” Quintana said Monday. “I feel OK with that. I just want to go to the mound and do my job. Right now, whatever role I get, I’ll be happy to be there. I just want to help.”
Quintana had microsurgery July 2 to repair a lacerated left thumb, an injury that happened in a kitchen accident just before the start of summer training. He said his last two rehab sessions in South Bend were designed with a bullpen stint in mind. He worked a low number of pitches with runners on base, he said.
“I’m going to try to give him a clean inning to start with,” Ross said. “I’m not going to bring him in in the middle of traffic (runners on base), or try not to. The goal is to give him a clean inning and let him get some length, obviously. I also have an obligation to do what’s best for the team.”
One reason to try Quintana in the bullpen is the Cubs currently have just one left-handed relief pitcher, Kyle Ryan.
Chatwood has been on the injured list with a sore back. His last start was Aug. 6 at Kansas City when he was shredded for eight runs in less than three innings.
Forever live and die: The Cubs aren’t likely to make any significant moves before next Monday’s trade deadline, which Ross admitted before facing the Tigers.
“We’re going to live and die with the core guys here,” Ross said. “We’re going to be as good as those guys are. That’s our strength. Those are the guys that are going to carry the day for us. If we want to go to the place we expect to go, those guys have to be good.
“So you’ve got to trust them, you’ve got to let them work through the ups and downs of a season in general, but with this short season how everything’s heightened.”
The core group has been struggling at the plate. Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant all started the day hitting .215 or below, with Kyle Schwarber at .230 and Jason Heyward has the high mark at .246. The Cubs’ leader in OPS is Ian Happ, while Victor Caratini has the best batting average at .293 heading into Monday.
New trade consideration: As teams approach the trade deadline, there’s a new consideration to investigate besides positional need.
Will a new player good with following COVID-19 protocols? The Cubs have tried to be diligent since coming together for summer training and have yet to have a player test positive.
The team probably would hate to trade for someone who might stray from the hotel during road trips, for example.
“I think there’s probably a little extra background that they’ll do on guys and try to dig a little bit deeper than maybe they normally would on a trade deadline,” manager David Ross said. “What’s their family life like, off-field activity, any of that kind of stuff that may play a factor?”