ChCChicago Cubs
Carlos Villanueva
Jul 5: Villanueva lasted just two-plus innings against the Nationals on Saturday, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. Despite his poor performance, Villanueva may hang on to a rotation spot due to the Cubs' lack of viable alternatives. With both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel now in Oakland, Villanueva's next outing lines up for Thursday in Cincinnati.

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Jul 5: Villanueva has officially been named Saturday's starter, Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales reports. Villanueva will have a tough task facing the Nationals on the road without being properly stretched out, so expecting five-plus innings would be foolish. He posted a 4.50 ERA in 90 innings as a starter last season, while only striking out 65, so there's limited upside here, if Villanueva is able to hang on to a rotation spot after the departure of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Friday night's blockbuster deal with Oakland.

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Jul 5: Villanueva is expected to start Saturday in Washington, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. With Jeff Samardzija, Saturday's original scheduled starter, headed to Oakland in a blockbuster trade, Villanueva is expected to join the rotation, at least for now. Last season, Villanueva posted a 4.50 ERA in 90 innings as a starter, recording just 65 strikeouts and allowing 12 home runs, so there's not much upside here.

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Jun 22: Villanueva threw two perfect innings of relief against the Pirates on Saturday. That's four hitless two-inning appearances for Villanueva in his last six times out. His year-to-date numbers hide what has been a strong June, though his walks are still a problem, as he has seven in 12 innings this month.

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May 23: Villanueva tossed three scoreless innings Thursday and earned his first save of the season. Hector Rondon remains the closer for the Cubs, but Villanueva piggybacked off of six strong innings from Jake Arrieta to earn a save the long way. Since getting hammered in April, Villanueva has posted a 1.13 ERA over five relief appearances in May.

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Apr 28: Villanueva will return to the bullpen, as Jake Arrieta will be recalled to take his spot in the rotation Wednesday, MLB.com's Alyson Footer reports. Villanueva had been off to an awful start to the season, posting a 1-5 record with a 10.42 ERA and 2.21 WHIP over six games (four starts). His early-season struggles essentially made this an easy call for manager Rick Renteria. The move further diminishes the little fantasy value Villanueva was clinging to, although Arrieta isn't the greatest option either.

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Apr 25: Villanueva struggled through five innings Friday night, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits with just one strikeout in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers. The Cubs continue to deploy Villanueva to the mound in a starting role, but that seems likely to end sometime in the near future. The veteran right-hander is now the not so proud owner of a dreadful 10.42 ERA and 2.21 WHIP.

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Apr 20: Villanueva suffered through another shaky outing Sunday against the Reds, giving up five runs on nine hits and a walk over 4.2 innings, striking out seven. This may have been Villanueva's penultimate start, pending the progress of Jake Arrieta on his rehab assignment. This start adds more to the notion that Villanueva is better suited to the bullpen. He held the Reds scoreless over the first three innings, only to allow three runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. His career track record is testament to the notion that K:BB and K:9IP are not always revealing metrics when evaluating whether a pitcher can handle being in the starting rotation.

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Apr 13: Villanueva will make his regularly scheduled start next weekend against the Reds, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Villanueva was roughed up to the tune of nine runs over three innings Saturday against the Cardinals, leading some to speculate that his job as the Cubs' No. 5 starter could be in jeopardy. He'll hang on to this role for the next time through the rotation at least, but if he puts up another shaky performance, look for the Cubs to consider replacement options.

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Apr 12: Villanueva was victimized by the Cardinals on Saturday, allowing nine runs on 10 hits over three innings. Villanueva didn't allow any walks but also struck out just two of the 21 batters he faced in a wholly disastrous outing. While he allowed just one run in his only other start this season, he may not have much margin for error as the No. 5 starter. His next outing lines up for Saturday against the Reds, but the Cubs may opt to skip his turn in the rotation.

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Apr 6: Villanueva earned the win Sunday with five solid innings against the Phillies. He struck out three and walked none in the 8-3 victory. Villanueva lost the first two games of the season as a reliever, both in extra innings, but he came back strong Sunday, giving up just one run and six hits.

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Apr 5: Villanueva will start Sunday against the Phillies, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. After Villanueva pitched out of the bullpen in the first two games of the season, the team was forced to reconsider him as Sunday's starter. As a backup plan, the Cubs scratched Chris Rusin from his scheduled start at Triple-A Iowa on Friday, but manager Rick Renteria confirmed that he'll stick with Villanueva. The right-hander posted a 5.60 ERA and 20 strikeouts in six spring appearances (two starts).

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Apr 3: Villanueva is still scheduled to start Sunday against the Phillies, but manager Rick Renteria said the team will talk about its options Friday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Named the Cubs' fifth starter less than week ago, Villanueva has pitched in relief in the team's first two games to begin the season, taking the loss in both contests. The team will reportedly scratch Chris Rusin from his scheduled start for Triple-A Iowa on Thursday, so he's likely the top candidate to go Sunday if the team opts against starting Villanueva.

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Apr 3: Villanueva took his second consecutive loss Wednesday, allowing the Pirates to string three hits together in the 16th inning. It's not often you see a pitcher named as the fifth member of the rotation lose the first two games of the season, but there it is. Villanueva has given up four hits and two runs in his 1.1 innings this season, and he'll probably be happy to take the bump at the beginning of a game rather than the end. He's tentatively scheduled to start April 6, but who knows how many extra-inning marathons the Cubs will play between now and then.

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Mar 31: Villanueva took the loss out of the bullpen on Opening Day, allowing a walkoff home run to the Pirates' Neil Walker in the 10th inning Monday. Walker was the only batter that Villanueva faced. Despite the relief appearance, Villanueva is expected to pitch out of the rotation this season, making his first start on Apr. 6 against the Phillies.

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Mar 31: Villanueva will start the Cubs' sixth game of the year on April 6, the Chicago Tribune reports. Though Villanueva won the No. 5 spot in the rotation, the Cubs would prefer that ace Jeff Samaradzija stays on his regular routine, so he'll pitch the fifth game of the year.

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Mar 28: Villanueva has been named as the fifth starter for the Cubs, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. It was thought that Villanueva was going to be a part of the bullpen - and that is likely his role when Jake Arrieta (shoulder) is ready - but Chris Rusin's poor performance in his spring finale got Villanueva the job. That said, the temporary fifth starter on arguably the worst rotation in the National League is not exactly the best place to go looking for a fantasy gem.

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Mar 27: Chris Rusin gave up four home runs Wednesday, which could still give Villanueva a shot at a spot in the rotation. That said, Villanueva is better as a reliever and wasn't too good himself his last time out, walking three in four innings. Expect the Cubs to announce Rusin as the starter soon.

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Mar 23: Contrary to a previous report, Villanueva may be in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Villanueva is probably still going to start the year in the bullpen - Chris Rusin has pitched well enough to earn the job - but he'll get a chance to strut his stuff one last time in a start Monday. Jake Arrieta (shoulder) will probably take over the fifth spot when he's ready, so all of this speculation could be moot.

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Mar 20: Villanueva struck out eight Rockies in four innings Wednesday. Villanueva is not in the running for a rotation spot, but he should be the most important long man in the Cubs' bullpen. He has a sparkling 15:3 K:BB in 11.2 innings this spring.

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Mar 17: Though the Cubs haven't found a decent choice to be the fifth starter in the absence of Jake Arrieta (shoulder), Villanueva is no longer in the running, the team's official site reports. Villanueva is generally much better as a reliever anyway, so this decision makes sense. Still, the fact that he couldn't beat out the likes of James McDonald, Chris Rusin, and Tsuyoshi Wada says something about his ceiling.

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Feb 13: Villanueva will be stretched out as a starter this spring, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. As they did last spring, the Cubs will stretch Villanueva out to serve as an insurance policy for the starting rotation. Jake Arrieta (shoulder) is behind schedule and Justin Grimm is moving to the bullpen. While Villanueva has proven versatile, he hasn't posted an ERA below 4.06 since 2008 and the Cubs would prefer to not have to rely on him as a starter.

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