$5.5 million and five months after the Cubs hoped he would debut, Scott Baker will make his first major-league start for the team Sunday afternoon.
Baker's eight rehab starts can be seen as bad -- because the results were indeed mediocre at best. 5.46 ERA, 1.517 WHIP in 29⅔ innings. That's not even four innings per start. On the other hand, consider it as spring training for him, since he missed almost all of spring training.
In short, who knows? I will say this: if Baker shows well today (he'll be limited to about 90 pitches), I'd keep him in the rotation for the rest of the year (maybe 3-4 more starts) to see if it's worth re-signing him for 2014. Jake Arrieta could be moved to relief, where he might actually be better-suited.
I'm hoping for good results today, win or lose, from Baker. The Cubs can use all the starting-pitching options they can get. More on Baker below.
As noted in yesterday's recap, a Cubs loss or a Reds win Sunday will complete the Cubs' mathematical elimination from the 2013 postseason. (Obviously, the de facto elimination happened months ago.) A Cubs defeat would also clinch the team's fourth straight losing season, something that hasn't happened in 25 years, since 1985-88.
Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Rizzo 1B, Schierholtz RF, Bogusevic LF, Murphy 2B, Lake CF, Castillo C, Baker P
Aoki RF, Segura SS, Lucroy C, Ramirez 3B, Gomez CF, Gennett 2B, Betancourt 1B, Schafer LF, Gallardo P
Today's Starting Pitchers
|2013 - Yovani Gallardo||10-9||29||27||0||0||0||0||154.2||159||82||74||15||59||120||4.31||1.41|
Scott Baker last faced the Brewers June 24, 2011, and that tells a tale: not only has it been more than two years for Baker since his last big-league game, but look at that Milwaukee lineup: just two players who appeared in that game for the Brewers are on their active roster today (Jonathan Lucroy and Yuniesky Betancourt, and Betancourt left and came back). Current Brewers are just 9-for-34 against Baker, and 31 of those AB are Betancourt's.
Yovani Gallardo should be hitting his prime at age 27, but he is having the worst year of his career. That's reflected in his two starts against the Cubs: 8⅔ innings, six earned runs, seven walks, six strikeouts. We'd take that again today. Current Cubs are 32-for-118 (.271) against Gallardo with one home run (Ryan Sweeney).
Today's game is on WGN.
Here's the scoop on game threads for 2013. You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.
You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.