Tyler Chatwood took the high road when he was demoted from the Chicago Cubs’ rotation in late July. The right-hander figured going to the bullpen would give him a chance to work on his control and be ready should he get a chance to start again.
That chance comes Saturday when Chatwood (4-5, 5.06 ERA) will start against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. That was announced Friday when the Cubs placed Mike Montgomery on the disabled list because of left shoulder inflammation. Left-handed reliever Randy Rosario was promoted from Triple-A Iowa.
Montgomery had been scheduled to start Saturday, but he felt discomfort during a bullpen session Thursday.
“It was weird because I didn’t know that Monty was dealing with anything, but, obviously, you’re excited any time you get to start,” Chatwood said.
“I feel good, and I’m in a good place.”
He was the odd man out of the rotation when Chicago acquired Cole Hamels.
“Obviously, you never want that, but I think there’s some stuff I need to work out,” Chatwood said at the time. “So this will give me an opportunity to do that. Then, hopefully, whenever I start feeling good again, get back into the rotation.”
He admitted going to the bullpen made it easier to work on his delivery midseason.
“It’s hard to try overhaul your mechanics … in the middle of a year and get big league hitters out, especially when you’re on a first-place team,” he said.
As a reliever this month, Chatwood has given up four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in three games, including a scoreless, one-hit inning against Pittsburgh on Aug. 1.
He will be matched against Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove (4-7, 3.49 ERA) Saturday, and he will have a couple of tough acts to follow.
Chicago (71-50) moved to a season-best 21 games above .500 on Friday with its second straight 1-0 win over the Pirates (61-62), who have lost five in a row overall and are below .500 for the first time since July 15.
Hamels on Friday and Jon Lester on Thursday had strong starts against Pittsburgh as the Cubs won on solo homers, by Ian Happ on Thursday and Kyle Schwarber on Friday.
The Pirates not only have been shut out in the first two games of the four-game series, but they also tied a club record Friday by hitting into seven double plays.
“We couldn’t find dirt, plays, and they have a good defense,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Ineffective Pirates offense is nothing new to Musgrove, who has received miniscule run support lately. He has given up seven earned runs in 27 innings in four starts since the All-Star break. He has lost three straight decisions with just one run of backing, total.
His last start was a 4-3 loss Sunday in San Francisco, when he gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings but struck out six, threw 70 of 92 pitches for strikes and had just two extra-base hits against him.
“I thought he pitched, obviously, better than the result of giving up four runs,” Hurdle said. “He’s been efficient. He’s been effective.”
Against the Cubs, Musgrove is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts, including a 2-1 win May 30 when he gave up one run in seven innings.