When the Cubs signed Carlos Villanueva to a two-year, $10 million deal in December it was assumed that he’d be in the starting rotation, but now Carrie Muskat of MLB.com writes that they “seem to be leaning toward using Villanueva out of the bullpen.”
Villanueva said all the right things about filling whatever role is asked of him, but did tell Muskat: “I’m a starter and I’ve always seen myself as a starter.”
Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, and Scott Feldman are locked in as starters, so Villanueva’s chances of joining them in the rotation depend mostly on Scott Baker’s recovery from elbow surgery and partly on how impressive Travis Wood looks in camp.
TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.
Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.
“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”
Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.
The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.
Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.