The Cubs drafted right-hander Dallas Beeler in Round 41 of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. On Saturday, Beeler will make his Major League debut as the starting pitcher for Chicago in the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Nationals.
"I sat down and had to ask three times if he was kidding with me or not," Beeler said of when he got the news of his promotion. "I'm still on cloud nine right now."
In his first season with Triple-A Iowa, Beeler has compiled a 4.03 ERA and a 5-3 record over 10 starts. And while he may not be the best arm on the roster of the Cubs' top Minor League affiliate -- No. 14 prospect Kyle Hendricks boasts a 9-5 record and a 3.52 ERA, while veteran Tsuyoshi Wada is 8-4 with a 2.73 ERA -- Beeler received the nod for Saturday as Chicago's 26th man because he is on normal rest and has a spot on the team's 40-man roster.
"Dallas has done a nice job," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "He started the year hurt and came back, and he's been able to repeat his delivery and keep the ball down in the strike zone. When he relaxes on the mound and controls his effort level and keeps the ball down, he's got tremendous sink and multiple weapons and is tough on right-handed hitters."
Epstein said the key for Beeler on Saturday would be finding the ability to shake his nerves and concentrate on the task at hand.
"I always like calling up a young pitcher for the first time and tell him, 'It's one start, we need you for a doubleheader. Come out and do your thing. If you throw a no-hitter, you're going back, and if you don't get out of the first inning, you're going back. Come out, relax and have fun,'" Epstein said.
Beeler will face off against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who is making his third start since coming back from a stint on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder inflammation.
Gonzalez struggled with both control and velocity in the two starts after his return. In his first outing off the DL, Gonzalez allowed four earned runs and walked three in five innings against the Astros. He fared better on Monday in Milwaukee, throwing six scoreless innings to earn the win, but still issued four free passes.
According to FanGraphs, Gonzalez averaged 90.7 mph on his fastball against the Brewers. The left-hander's fastball velocity usually sits in the mid-90s, but Gonzalez said improving his pitch speed is all about regaining strength in his shoulder.
"You can't expect me to throw 95 right off the bat," Gonzalez said. "It's definitely working your way back. It's nothing to be concerned about, just kind of keep building it from there."
In the nightcap, which begins at 7:15 ET, Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija -- who is 2-6 with a 2.53 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 16 starts this season -- will take on right-hander Blake Treinen, who Washington called up from Triple-A Syracuse as the team's 26th player for Saturday's doubleheader.
Treinen has compiled a 2.49 ERA over four starts, while making four relief appearances, for the Nationals in 2014. Meanwhile, he's 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts for Syracuse.
"He's pitched really well," manager Matt Williams said of Treinen. "Anything we've asked him to do, whether it's relief for one inning or multiple innings or starting, he's come up here and competed at this level and done really well. He's got good stuff, man, really good stuff."
Cubs: Lake OK after collision with wall
Outfielder Junior Lake was forced to leave in the second inning of Thursday night's 5-3 win over the Nationals after a head-on collision with the metal doors along the right-field wall at Wrigley Field.
Lake came out for precautionary reasons. The medical staff reported bruising on his head and left leg but no concussion symptoms. Lake was available off the bench in Friday's 7-2 win, but he didn't see any action.
"I went too fast into the wall," Lake said Friday. "When I looked again, I was too close to the wall, and when I dove, I hit the door. That's crazy. But I'm feeling good."
Nats: Williams not concerned about Desmond, Werth
If there was an Ironman competition in the clubhouse, shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Jayson Werth would be the front-runners.
Desmond has played in 78 of Washington's 79 games, while Werth has played in 77. Williams said that both look fine physically, however. Plus, the club has a rare off-day on Sunday and another on Thursday following a three-game set against the Rockies.
"They're all in the same boat," Williams said. "They'll get one on Sunday, they'll get another one on Thursday, and hopefully that allows them to get some rest."
• Williams announced Friday that the Nationals will recall left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Syracuse for Saturday's doubleheader, while optioning Taylor Hill back to Syracuse. Cedeno has a 1.56 ERA in 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A this season.
• Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who returned from the disabled list on Thursday, returned to his spot as the sixth hitter in the Nationals' order during Friday's 7-2 loss after batting seventh against the Cubs in the series opener. Ramos went 1-for-3 with a walk. Shortstop Ian Desmond took over the seven hole and went 0-for-3.
"Just wanted to take a look at Wilson last night," Williams said Friday. "Any time somebody comes back from a rehab start, we want to make sure we ease him in, but he looked good last night, swinging the bat well. We put him back in a little bit of a normal spot, a little bit more speed at the bottom of the order."