It’s not exactly Aroldis Chapman or Justin Verlander at the trade deadline.
But the Cubs get some much needed help for their pitching staff this week when they activate right-hander Tyler Chatwood from the injured list to start Tuesday in Detroit and activate left-hander José Quintana from the IL to join the bullpen.
Both moves are expected Tuesday before the second game of a three-game series against the Tigers.
Chatwood has been sidelined with back tightness for more than two weeks. Quintana hasn’t pitched this season after cutting a nerve in his left thumb on a broken glass while doing dishes June 28, just before the team opened summer training camp.
“I’ve been working really hard to be back as soon as possible,” said Quintana, a 2017 All-Star who made at least 31 starts each of the past seven seasons. “I know it took me a little time, but now I feel ready to do my job. And right now whatever role they ask, I’m happy to be there. I know [Tuesday] I’ll be in the bullpen. I just want to help. It’s awesome to be back.”
Quintana’s time in the bullpen could be brief, depending on how starters such as Chatwood and Alec Mills perform and what the left-handed needs might be in the pen.
In fact, he’s expected to start this weekend in Cincinnati, where the Cubs are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday.
“The goal is first to get a look at him,” manager David Ross said. “He’s been stretched out, so we’ve got some length down there in the pen with him, and then just as he builds up we’ve got some doubleheaders coming up, and we’ll navigate that with who’s pitching well and just kind of take that as it goes.”
The Cubs have one more doubleheader on the schedule the following Saturday, at home against the Cardinals on Sept. 5.
“We understand he’s a starting option for us moving forward if we need that,” Ross said.
The Cubs rotation has a 3.79 ERA and is averaging 5 2/3 innings per start — 4.47 and 5 1/3 after Yu Darvish.
Quintana, who opened last season with four relief innings in a piggyback role the first time through the rotation before moving into his accustomed starting role, provides insurance Tuesday against a setback or performance issues with Chatwood’s return.
Ross said he hopes to use Quintana for multiple innings and bring him in to start an inning as he eases him back into action.
The Cubs reach the halfway mark on their schedule with Wednesday’s conclusion of the Detroit series.
“I can’t wait to get back,” said Quintana, who added his velocity is at full strength and his changeup and breaking ball have felt normal. “I can’t wait for [Tuesday] and show everything that I have and how I’ve been feeling.
“It’s different,” he said of the bullpen role for now. “But I’ve been in that role before. It’ll be OK.”