Cubs manager David Ross hasn’t yet named the starting pitchers for the team’s two doubleheaders next week.
“I don’t want to put myself too much in a box leading up to that,” Ross said. “The games leading up to that series will dictate how we play it."
But it’s unlikely that left-hander José Quintana will be ready to return by early next week. The Cubs are scheduled to play seven-inning doubleheaders against the Cardinals on Monday and Wednesday, making for five games in three days. Those two extra games will count as Cardinals home games, despite being played at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs and Cardinals make up their postponed series from last weekend. The third game of that series is scheduled as a doubleheader on Sept. 5.
Quintana, who missed the beginning of the season after slicing his left thumb in a dish-washing accident, is scheduled to throw another simulated game on Sunday. This one is set for four innings, a frame longer than his last on Tuesday.
“Talking to him, I didn’t get the feel that he’s quite ready yet,” Ross said. “I think we’ll get a lot of feedback Sunday, but rushing a guy like that, that’s so important, just doesn’t make a lot of sense in this scenario to me.”
So, why does Ross need to see how the next couple days play out? In two words: Colin Rea.
“If he’s going to pitch big innings in a W here and give us a chance to win a game,” Ross said, “I don’t want to stay away from guys that we have now just for the possibility down the road. I want to try to win tonight’s game and then adjust.”
Rea has pitched in two games since the Cubs recalled him from South Bend two weeks ago. At Kansas City last week, he made his first major league appearance since 2016. Rea threw one no-hit inning and struck out two. Then, at Cleveland on Tuesday he tossed two scoreless innings.
He’d been a starter for most his career and is a pitcher Ross feels comfortable calling on to throw multiple innings. Other candidates can be be found at the Cubs alternate site.
“We definitely have guys down there (in South Bend) that are ready," Ross said, "and understand that Monday and Wednesday will be days that we’ll be able to grab pitchers from down there.”
The South Bend roster includes pitchers like right-hander Adbert Alzolay. The 24-year-old prospect made his debut for the Cubs last season. He had one glowing start, in which he allowed just one hit and one run in 4 2/3 innings. But then in his next start, he lasted less than three innings.
Left-hander Justin Steele is also back in South Bend, after the Cubs briefly recalled him earlier this month. The 25-year-old has yet to make his big-league debut but has been a starter in the Cubs farm system since the club drafted him in 2014.
Ross also mentioned Tyson Miller and Rex Brothers as pitchers in South Bend who can throw multiple innings.
An injury threw another wrench into the equation Friday. Tyler Chatwood was originally scheduled to start against the Brewers Friday, but he was a late scratch due to mid-back tightness. Instead, Alec Mills took the mound a day early.
As of Friday evening, the Cubs had not announced a starting pitcher for Saturday.