Welcome back to the Cubs rotation, José Quintana.
This isn't how the Cubs' hoped the decision would be made on Quintana's role heading into the final month of the season, but Tyler Chatwood took the choice out of their hands Sunday when he left his start in Cincinnati because of what the team called "discomfort" in his right elbow.
Chatwood, who had Tommy John surgery twice in his career, spiked a changeup to Joey Votto with one out in the third Sunday, then called for the team trainer and exited the game.
He told the team he felt something on his final two pitches and is to be examined Monday in Chicago to determine the severity and prognosis for the final 26 games of the season.
Meanwhile, Quintana, who returned from an eight-week thumb injury Tuesday, joins the rotation until further notice — after the Cubs had considered using him as a second lefty in the bullpen.
“That’s why it’s so hard to plan,” manager David Ross said after the game. “We’ll see how it goes moving forward.”
Quintana, who threw three impressive innings of relief in Chatwood's previous start before tiring in his fourth inning of work Tuesday, looked sharp again in three innings of relief Sunday — striking out half of the 12 batters he faced and giving up a run on a solo homer.
“I don’t know what’s coming next, but I feel to be back in whatever spot I can help my team,” Quintana said after the 10-1 Cubs win Sunday, adding that he “felt great” and “in control of my emotions more than last time.”
Chatwood already had missed more than two weeks this season because of a back injury. And with just four weeks left, he could be done for the year even with a relatively minor injury.
The Chatwood injury turned up the urgency on the Cubs’ front office — which already was on the hunt for left-handed bullpen help — in the final hours before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, after adding outfielder Jose Martinez earlier Sunday.
Chatwood, who is in the final year of a three-year deal with the Cubs, is 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA in five starts this season (11-11, 4.70, in 67 games, including 30 starts, as a Cub).