Both the front and back ends of the Cubs' starting rotation took center stage Monday.
Staff ace Jeff Samardzija was supposed to start Monday night's series opener against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, but the game was washed out by rain.
No makeup date was announced, so this becomes a two-game series, with Samardzija opposing Alfredo Simon on Tuesday night and Edwin Jackson going against Tony Cingrani in Wednesday night's finale.
The other news concerned the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
Before Monday's game was rained out, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said right-hander Jake Arrieta would come off the disabled list Wednesday and start. Because of the rainout, Arrieta's 2014 debut will be delayed to this weekend, when the Cubs come home to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
It's likely that left-hander Travis Wood will start Friday's series opener, with Arrieta going either Saturday afternoon or Sunday night
Arrieta reported to spring training with discomfort in his pitching shoulder. He just finished a 5-start minor-league rehab stint.
When Arrieta returns to the active list, he'll replace right-hander Carlos Villanueva in the rotation, with Villanueva going back to the bullpen.
"I think I can be a guy that this team can rely on for a long time," Arrieta told reporters Monday in Cincinnati. "I showed a lot of that last year and I'm confident that I could pick up where I left off and be even better than that."
The Cubs obtained the 28-year Arrieta on July 2 from Baltimore in a trade that also brought reliever Pedro Strop to Chicago for pitcher Scott Feldman. Arrieta split time between the Cubs and Class AAA Iowa after the trade. With the big club, he went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 9 starts.
"It's nice to have him back," Renteria said. "He's still working his way back in terms of finally getting his feet back on a major-league field and doing what he does."
It's been a rough start for Villanueva. He is 1-5 with a 10.42 ERA, having given up a whopping 40 hits in 19 innings.
Arrieta always has had good stuff. It's just a matter of harnessing it.
"The work I put in, the sky's the limit," he said. "I can be a guy that this team can rely on for a long time. I showed a lot of that last year, and I'm confident I can pick up where I left off and even be better than that. I'm very confident."
As far as Samardzija goes, he's been the Cubs' hard-luck starter. He is 0-2 but with a 1.53 ERA. The Cubs have scored a total of 21 runs while Samardzija has been in the game in his last 10 starts dating to last season. All 5 of Samardzija's starts this year have been quality starts. His name also has been front and center in trade rumors because he and the Cubs don't' appear close on a long-term contract extension.
If Samardzija keeps pitching well, his price and his value will only go up, to either the Cubs or some other team.