Theo Epstein told reporters that the next step for Yu Darivsh will be a minor league rehab start, provided all goes well following Tuesday’s approximately 50-pitch simulated game at Wrigley. Darvish threw 33-35 pitches in his first sim game last Wednesday, so this one is coming on five days’ rest. Assuming he’s able to maintain that same schedule, he’d make his first live start Monday.
Assuming Darvish feels good tomorrow after making it through today's simulated game at Wrigley, Theo says the next step would be a rehab start in the minors.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 14, 2018
That means a second start on August 25 or 26, the latter of which might make more sense in terms of the roster. With five more games in August following the latter of those two dates, the Cubs could use all five members of the current rotation and then activate Darvish to face the Phillies when rosters expand September 1.
“It’s been a long road back,” Epstein said Tuesday. “There is no point in rushing it. We probably have one chance, given where we are in the calendar, to get this right.”
For what it’s worth, the South Bend Cubs have home dates each of the next two weekends, which would coincide with Darvish’s likely rehab starts. The Tennessee Smokies and Iowa Cubs are both playing on the road during those same time periods, so South Bend looks like the place to be if you’re interested in getting an up-close look at Darvish as he works his way back.
The timeline as laid out above would also coincide well with moving Mike Montgomery back to the bullpen. The Cubs chose to skip his most recent turn in the rotation as a way of conserving his innings and pitches, but he’s slated to start this Saturday in Pittsburgh. Assuming they don’t skip him again, he’d make starts in Cincinnati on August 20 and home against the Mets August 29.
Based on that, Montgomery would be available in the bullpen once Darvish returns and could provide support as the Cubs likely easy the righty back in. There’s still some noise in that plan and things have to continue along their current paths between now and then, but it holds water right now. Darvish has reported no pain or other issues since altering his mechanics in late July and everything feels more positive than it did the last time he worked up to a rehab start.