The Chicago Cubs will get much-needed help at the fifth starter position tonight when they face the Cincinnati Reds.
The right-handed Jake Arrieta makes his first start of the season, replacing the extremely ineffective Carlos Villanueva, who is 1-5 with a 10.42 ERA.
Arrieta began the season on the disabled list with tightness and inflammation in his shoulder, but after throwing a side session Monday without issue, the 6-foot-4 pitcher will make his season debut according to manager Rick Renteria.
Arrieta made his fifth and final rehab start Saturday, allowing one earned run on two hits with a walk in his two innings of work.
During his rehab stints, he had a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings with Single and Double-A.
“(I’m) feeling really strong,” Arrieta told ESPN Chicago. “I’m confident I can pick up where I left off and be even better than that.”
The Cubs acquired Arrieta and relief pitcher Pedro Strop from the Baltimore Orioles on July 2 for right-hander Scott Feldman.
Arrieta went 5-4 with a 4.78 ERA last season in his 14 starts with the Baltimore Orioles and Cubs.
Arrieta is coming off a strong finish to last season following the trade to Chicago.
In his nine starts for the Cubs, Arrieta posted a career-low 3.66 ERA, compiling four of his five wins from last season.
Arrieta faces off against Reds pitcher Homer Bailey Wednesday. The right-hander has struggled this season, posting a 1-2 record with a 6.15 ERA in five starts.
With the move, Villanueva moves back to the bullpen where he feels more comfortable.
Despite Villanueva’s woes, the pitching hasn’t been the problem. The Cubs are middle of the pack in terms of team ERA (3.79), but rank 28th in the MLB with only 88 runs scored in 24 games.
The Cubs lost 3-2 yesterday against the Reds.