ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs have yet to announce when Cole Hamels will make his first start for the team, but they have decided to go with a five-man rotation. Who's the odd man out? Manager Joe Maddon wasn't ready to say on Friday.
"We do have an idea, but I'm not ready to tell you," Maddon said. "You have to talk among the entire group, and when you decide what you're doing, you have to talk to the pitchers first."
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was in St. Louis to meet with Maddon, the staff and the starters. Hamels, who last pitched Monday, is expected to join his new team on Sunday. Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana appear set. Tyler Chatwood leads the Major Leagues in walks (85) and is 4-5, but the Cubs are 11-8 in his starts and have won the last five. When asked specifically about the right-hander, Maddon said they hadn't discussed it yet.
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Mike Montgomery, who has been subbing for Yu Darvish, made his 11th start of the season on Friday in the series opener against the Cardinals. He hasn't totaled this many innings in some time. Would he be better in the bullpen?
Do the Cubs have too many lefties in the rotation? If they keep Montgomery in the mix, that would give them four with the addition of Hamels. Maddon isn't too concerned about that.
"It's called [Jim] Abbott, [Mark] Langston and [Chuck] Finley and if you go back to the '79 White Sox, they had four," Maddon said. "It's always OK for a team to have five righties, but once you get a couple lefties out there, everybody gets concerned about that. If the quality of the lefty is good, it doesn't matter. I've seen it work before."
Hamels' overall numbers aren't great. He was 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA with the Rangers, but that included a 1-7 record and 6.41 ERA in 10 home starts.
"I don't think he was pitching bad," said reliever Jesse Chavez, who was on the Rangers before the Cubs acquired him this month. "I think sometimes, the elements of the ballpark can inflate some things.
"A ball gets in the air, it's going to float over there," he said of the Rangers' home ballpark. "It's like Cincinnati. You get the high wall in left and the digital scoreboard and the little wall in right, and that's similar to Texas dimensions, and it plays that way.
"The way he went about his business as a professional is all you want, and that's Cole."
That was key, Epstein said.
"We're looking beyond his recent struggles and looking at the pitcher overall and the man overall that he is," Epstein said. "He's a proven excellent starter in this league for a long time, and has been through the wars, and is the type of guy who could get rejuvenated to come into a situation he's in now to a pennant race and this clubhouse and Wrigley Field.
"He's thrilled to have this opportunity, and we're thrilled to have him. Sometimes you have to take a little bit of an educated gamble on a guy and look past recent performance. His stuff is still there, his velocity is the same as it's been for years, and it's actually been trending up during the course of the season. It's ben a command and execution issue."
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The Cubs wanted to add a starter prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Epstein said.
"We're one injury away from being in a really tough spot," he said. "Some of the injuries we've had, some of the struggles we've had in certain areas and Monty's innings becoming an issue as you go deeper and deeper in the season, we felt it would be irresponsible not to add one starting pitcher. We knew that was something we were going to do in some form or another."
The news definitely perked up Darvish, who was Hamels' teammate in Texas.
"The way I think of him, the bigger the game is, the better he'll perform," Darvish said. "Hopefully, when he joins here, he'll outperform everyone."