The Cubs showed up to the ballpark Sunday morning knowing they were going to have to get creative with their pitching staff.
Sure, they just had the All-Star Break, but they kicked the season's second half off by jamming the pedal to the metal with a hard-fought 5-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-day span.
Despite another quality start out of Mike Montgomery and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Cubs simply had too many innings to cover in Saturday's doubleheader.
They entered Sunday with Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson all unavailable, closer Brandon Morrow on the disabled list and hoping they didn't have to use long man Luke Farrell out of the bullpen so he could start Monday night's game.
That left some combination of Chavez (who had already worked 2 innings in his Cubs debut Saturday), Randy Rosario, Brian Duensing and Carl Edwards Jr. as the guys available out of the bullpen.
And that's even with 3 different position players pitching during Friday's blowout loss to help save the bullpen.
"Sometimes, you just gotta regroup and you have to try to do it in other ways to make sure that these guys are gonna be well for the rest of the season," Maddon said.
Enter Jose Quintana.
Quintana wasn't masterful — he allowed 10 baserunners in 7 innings, though a pair of those were intentional walks — but he still managed to eat up a bunch of outs and pick up his 9th win of the season. The 121 pitches he threw tied a career high and was the first time he topped the century mark since May 19.
It allowed the Cubs to only have to rely on Chavez (who threw another perfect inning) and Rosario, leaving Edwards to get some rest and Farrell to be set for Monday's start.
The Cubs are currently in a tough stretch where they play 12 games in 11 days against playoff-hopeful teams (Cardinals, Diamondbacks). They don't have another off-day until next Monday and have only four off-days between now and Sept. 13 as they'll play 53 games in that 56-day stretch.
As creative as they had to get this weekend against St. Louis, the Cubs will still have plenty of hurdles to cross to ensure their pitching staff is healthy and fresh come October.