As they battle to avoid finishing in last place in the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers have their eyes on the future.
Jake Arrieta and Johnny Hellweg, who oppose each other Saturday at Wrigley Field, are hoping to be a part of their teams' plans in 2014.
Arrieta (2-1, 3.77 ERA) has pitched pretty well for the Cubs since being acquired two months ago, but Milwaukee's Hellweg didn't find the same success in his first stint in the majors.
Arrieta has allowed one run or less in three of his five starts with Chicago after coming over as part of a four-player trade with Baltimore on July 2. The right-hander gave up one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-1 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
"That's my goal is to be a part of this rotation for many years," he told the Cubs' official website. "I've developed some comfort here, the staff has been great so far, and I look forward to continuing relationships with the staff and players, because that's a huge part of every team, the chemistry and camaraderie in the clubhouse.
"There will be times when struggles come into play, but it's a matter of minimizing the struggles. I have to get over the hump of compounding difficult starts. When I'm able to do that, then I'm in the right spot. Not only will I benefit, but the organization and the team will see the reward, as well."
Arrieta's first start for Chicago came against the Brewers at Wrigley on July 30. He allowed one run and two hits over six innings but did not receive a decision as the Cubs lost 3-2.
Hellweg (0-3, 10.97) made his major league debut for Milwaukee on June 28 in Pittsburgh, and it did not go well. The 6-foot-9 right-hander was knocked out after giving up seven runs - five earned - and six hits while walking two in 1 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss.
He was also roughed up in a relief appearance and another two starts before being sent back to the minors. The Brewers recalled Hellweg on Tuesday, giving him another chance to show why he is rated one of the organization's top prospects.
Hellweg was named the Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the year and Brewers' minor league pitcher of the year after going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts at Triple-A Nashville.
"(Winning PCL pitcher of the year) kind of just shows that I did what I needed to at Triple-A and now it's time to do that here," Hellweg told the Brewers' official website.
"It's still the minor leagues down there at Triple-A, but it gives me a little bit of a confidence booster coming up here and giving this another shot."
Chicago (60-80) tied Milwaukee (60-80) for fourth place in the division and pulled within one victory of matching last season's total with an 8-5 win in the opener of this three-game series Friday.
The Cubs have won four of six and will be attempting to register three straight victories for the first time since sweeping the Giants in San Francisco from July 26-28.
Milwaukee has dropped six of seven and is inching closer to its first losing season since 2010.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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