The obvious next question, after the Cubs announced Jake Arrieta was going on the injured list Wednesday, didn’t have an obvious answer.
Who would start in Arrieta’s place on Sunday against the Cardinals?
“Jeez,” Cubs manager David Ross sighed. “I don’t know yet.”
Arrieta landed on the 10-day IL with right hamstring tightness, the Cubs announced on Wednesday. The right-hander hadn’t made it past the second inning in his last two starts, allowing a combined 13 runs (10 earned).
“He’s been dealing with it dating back to late May,” Ross said. “It’s one of those things – I think he thinks he’s fine. Something’s going on with the way he’s pitching, and I think it’s best if we take care of that, make sure that (hamstring tightness is) not some of the cause of what’s going on with him.”
The All-Star break buys the Cubs time to figure out what to do next. But there’s still one start unaccounted for before then.
Right hander Trevor Williams’ schedule could make him a convenient choice to fill in. Williams returned from the IL on Tuesday, making his first appearance since his appendectomy in late May. On short rest (his last rehab appearance was Friday), Williams threw 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen on Tuesday against the Phillies. He gave up seven runs (three earned) after Arrieta’s short start.
“It was his bullpen day, so we got him some length, which was nice,” Ross said.
Still on a rehab stint with the Iowa Cubs, reliever Justin Steele (hamstring) made his fourth Triple-A appearance on Wednesday. Though he made his MLB debut with the Cubs this season as a reliever, he and fellow rookie reliever Keegan Thompson climbed through the farms system as starters.
Asked whether Thompson’s bullpen role in was set in stone, Ross broadened the scope of the question.
“There's a lot of things that could change if we don't start winning,” he said.
The Cubs were on an 11-game losing streak entering their game Wednesday against the Phillies at Wrigley Field.