“I think right now, the way everything is set up, he’s still scheduled to throw Wednesday,” manager Rick Renteria said before Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Villanueva lasted five innings Friday night in a 5-2 loss. He gave up all five runs to the Brewers on 11 hits. For the season, he’s thrown 19 total innings while giving up a whopping 40 hits. His .412 batting average against is the worst in the league among anyone that’s started four or more games.
The Cubs are awaiting the return of starter Jake Arrieta from a rehab assignment -- that’s the only reason Villanueva has been starting. Arrieta is due to throw a few innings Saturday night for Double-A Tennessee before rejoining the team but he won’t be able to pitch Wednesday without going on short rest. So that’s why Villanueva and his 10.42 ERA get one more turn.
“Right now, he’s still on track,” Renteria said.
But couldn’t the Cubs throw someone else that might be a bigger part of their future? Or at least gives them a better chance at winning? Prospect Chris Rusin just got his season back on track Friday night with a seven-inning, one-run performance for Triple-A Iowa and lefty Tsuyoshi Wada leads the Pacific Coast League with a 0.68 ERA. Wada wasn’t very good in spring training, but the Cubs say they like to reward performance.
If Villanueva is transitioning back to the bullpen, this would be the perfect time to see someone else on the mound for one start. And Wada or Rusin would fit nicely against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday since they employ tough lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
“Arrieta is throwing today (Saturday) so there’s still a lot of things going on,” Renteria said.
Really, there isn’t a lot going on with the Cubs these days. Villanueva has been a good soldier going back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen since signing with the Cubs before last season but his performance so far this year doesn’t warrant another start.
He’s not a prospect the Cubs are trying to evaluate and he’s not giving the team a good chance to win right now. There are other options the Cubs are simply turning down.