Right-hander Colin Rea will make his first major league start since 2016 when he takes the mound for the Chicago Cubs against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
Rea, 30, has spent the past few seasons resurrecting his career in the minors after Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2017 campaign. He earned a spot in the Cubs’ bullpen to start this season and has tossed three scoreless innings.
An injury to Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood forced first-year manager David Ross to shuffle his rotation. Chatwood was supposed to start Friday, but fellow starter Alec Mills stepped in on short notice to take his place.
That left an opening for Saturday, when Mills initially had been slated to start.
Rea went 7-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) with the San Diego Padres from 2015-16. He also made one start for the Miami Marlins on July 30, 2016, recording 3 1/3 scoreless innings in what would be his final outing for years.
In 26 starts for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs last season, Rea went 14-4 with a 3.95 ERA. This will be his first career appearance against the Brewers.
“We’ll put him in that group of somebody that can give us some length out of the bullpen,” Ross said to reporters after adding Rea to the roster this season. “He’s stretched out, so we’ve got multiple options with him. Probably a guy to give us some length and he’s a strike-thrower, so we can use him either ahead or behind.”
The Brewers will counter with right-hander Adrian Houser (1-1, 2.65 ERA), who will make his fourth start of the season and the 22nd start of his career. He will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season after giving up four runs on six hits in five innings against the Minnesota Twins on Monday.
The 27-year-old Houser is 1-1 with a 4.86 ERA in seven career appearances (two starts) against the Cubs. He has issued four walks and struck out 17 in 16 2/3 innings.
Milwaukee, which has split the first two games of the series, could reinsert Ryan Braun into the starting lineup after a two-day absence. Braun had an infection in his right index fingernail earlier this month, and manager Craig Counsell kept him out of the lineup Thursday and Friday.
“We’ve tried to let the finger heal because he was still having some residual (pain) in the finger when he was throwing,” Counsell said. “But you’ll likely see him in the lineup Saturday or Sunday. He’s available to play.”
The Cubs also have been hindered by a finger injury to one of their top players. Kris Bryant was out of the starting lineup Friday because of soreness in his left ring finger and left wrist, but the ailments are not believed to be serious.
The start of Saturday’s game was moved up from 7:15 p.m. local time to 2:20 p.m. The decision was made because inclement weather is forecast for Saturday night in Chicago, and the teams hope to avoid a delay or postponement.
–Field Level Media