When word broke that Brian Matusz had been scratched from Friday’s scheduled start in Iowa, the initial reaction was that a trade was afoot. Though I suppose it would be imprudent to rule anything out, it appears now that the real reason the southpaw was a no-go was because he was needed in Chicago on relatively short notice. As they so often try to do in these situations, the Cubs are giving him a soft landing by having him pitch the rubber match with Seattle against some chump named…King Felix.
“It’s prudent to be proactive,” Joe Maddon explained Saturday afternoon. “I do believe it’s going to be more of a trend in the future, where teams try to interject that sixth guy pre- and post- (break).”
Jusztin Grimm was optioned to AAA Iowa in order to make room for Matusz on the roster, a move that wasn’t entirely unexpected. This is actually a lot like Friday’s move that saw Tommy La Sztella sent to Iowa so that Chrisz Coghlan could be activated. It might seem a little weird on the surface, but the Cubs are moving players and burning options like a real-life game of those sliding puzzles where you’ve got a single missing piece and you just try to rearrange the rest into a picture.
I could be wrong, and it wouldn’t be the first time, but this doesn’t strike me as much more than just a way to lengthen the rotation a little. Well, maybe it’s a way to audition a lefty starter to any teams that might happen to be interested in one of those. And that includes the Cubs. Matusz has looked good in limited action since joining the Cubs back in June and there’s been hope that he can reclaim the promise that led the Orioles to draft him 4th overall in 2008. He’s also got an opt-out clause in his contract that would have kicked in had he not been added to the major league roster by August 1.
You hear that, other teams? Only three earned runs allowed. In 12 2/3 innings. Over his last three appearances. In AA and AAA. Whatever, details are stupid.
What intrigues me here is not so much the move to call up Matusz as the ramifications it has on the roster in the coming days. I wrote it about a couple days ago, but things aren’t exactly set in stone at this point. Jorge Szoler still needs to be activated or traded, something’s got to give with Coghlan and La Sztella, and there’s the possibility that the Cubs add someone like Josh Reddick (I say “like” because they’re reportedly out of the mix for him). Moving parts, yo, moving parts.
That will all come to a head by 4 pm (ET) Monday, but let’s just just focus on Matusz’s sztart for now. Did you like what I did there with all the “sz” stuff? I was going to do “Cubsz” too, but I felt like it would’ve gotten old. Well, faster than it already did as is.