Cubs to go with 6-man rotation to give extra rest
The Cubs will go with a six-man starting-pitching rotation for at least the next turn through the rotation.
The team announced Sunday that recent call-up Alec Mills will start Wednesday's series finale against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. Left-hander Mike Montgomery is scheduled to come off the disabled list and pitch Thursday's makeup game at Atlanta.
From there, the Cubs will slot in Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Cole Hamels.
Manager Joe Maddon talked Saturday about giving Quintana rest so that he regains the life on his fastball. With Mills and Montgomery starting, Quintana will get an extra day, as will the rest of the starters, as the Cubs are in the early stages of a stretch of 23 games in 23 days.
"With all these games in a row, we're really trying to be proactive with that," Maddon said Sunday. "It really looks like our only opportunity to do something like this, so we chose to do something about it."
Mills, who made a relief appearance for the Cubs earlier this season, started this past Friday against the Reds and worked 5⅔ innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball.
"What he did the other day, that in and of itself was a real boon to what we had been doing," Maddon said of Mills. "He saved our bullpen. He did a lot of great things. Now, if he can replicate that somewhat next time out and you can possibly count on him later to do something like that, that could be large."
Ready to head out:
Third baseman Kris Bryant took live batting practice against rehabbing left-hander Drew Smyly in a short session Sunday morning.
Bryant will head out to join the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate to begin a rehab assignment Monday. Bryant has been on the disabled list, effective July 24, with left-shoulder inflammation.
How long Bryant plays for Iowa depends on how his body responds, Joe Maddon said. Bryant took full batting practice Saturday and said the shoulder is fine.
With the recent trade for infielder Daniel Murphy and the continued good play of infielder David Bote, Maddon said Bryant will be in the mix to see time in the outfield as well as third base.
Smyly, whom the Cubs signed to a two-year contract in the off-season, is coming back from Tommy John surgery. It's unlikely he will pitch this year, but the Cubs have been targeting 2019 all along.
Other injury updates:
Pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who lost his starting job because of wildness, will head out with Kris Bryant to join Iowa on a rehab assignment. Chatwood is on the DL with left-hip tightness.
Closer Brandon Morrow continues a routine of playing catch. He has been on the DL since mid-July with right-biceps inflammation. There is no timetable for his return.
Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing continues to rehab with Iowa as he recovers from left-shoulder inflammation.
This and that:
The Cubs swept the Reds in a series of at least four games for the first time since 1945, when they went 21-1 against Cincinnati ... Daniel Murphy, acquired last week from Washington, went 2-for-4 Sunday and is 9-for-23 (.391) with 5 runs scored in his first five games with the Cubs.