Weather disrupts Cubs' starting rotation, 'pen

June 21st, 2018

CINCINNATI -- One of the more well-worn cliches in baseball is "take it one game at a time." But when Cubs manager Joe Maddon said it on Thursday, he meant it literally. He wants to play one game at a time, per day -- not two, which is a possibility given the weekend forecast in Cincinnati this weekend.

"I'll be very happy with one game at a time," Maddon said.

The skies cleared about an hour or so before first pitch on Thursday, allowing the Cubs and Reds to dodge any unwanted delays for the opener of the four-game set. Friday and Saturday are murkier, with thunderstorms projected to bombard the area until Sunday.

The Cubs are not scheduled to return to Cincinnati this season after the current series is complete. The remaining 10 games between the teams will be played at Wrigley Field.

The uncertainty of the weather has delayed the Cubs from looking beyond Friday to set their rotation. will start Friday's game, but Saturday and Sunday are currently listed as TBD.

is a possibility, though Maddon said he won't let that deter him from using Farrell in relief if necessary.

The planning process has also been in a little bit of disarray due to some happy news as well -- is currently on standby, as his wife is expecting a baby any day. That will necessitate the right-hander, who started one of the games of the doubleheader with the Dodgers on Tuesday, to take a temporary leave of absence.

Maddon said he'll most likely anoint starters for the final two games after Friday's contest, assuming rain doesn't interrupt the schedule.

"This weather report is so awkward," Maddon said.

The Cubs are in a stretch of playing 14 games in 13 days without a day off, and it's a safe bet they'll need to stretch their bullpen a bit to get through it. They'll also have to rely on several relievers who weren't with the club on Opening Day to help.

So far, the backup cast has picked up much of the slack for mainstays and closer -- both injured -- and , who's due back Friday after missing time on the bereavement list.

Entering Thursday's opener, the Cubs' 'pen ranked second in the Majors with a 2.72 ERA, and a .209 opponents' batting average, second to only the Yankees.

Maddon said he will not be assigning roles or innings ahead of time with his current crop of relievers. The general message? Just be ready.

"I'm not going to lose the game in the sixth or the seventh inning, if that's a very critical moment in the game, by holding somebody back," he said. "We might score a bunch of runs afterward, or they might hit a bunch, and it becomes moot. When you're in a situation like this, where you have less than everybody, they'll just have to be all hands on deck, all the time."

Darvish improving

, who threw a 51-pitch simulated game on Wednesday, could be close to beginning a rehab assignment, though Maddon said he'll need to discuss it further with the Cubs' athletic training staff.

"He feels good today," Maddon said of the right-hander, who's recovering from right triceps tendinitis. "We'll map it out. We're very optimistic right now."