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As injury bug continues, Cubs pressed into making more roster moves

4 weeks agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs rotation took another hit on Sunday.

Rookie starter Jordan Wicks was placed on the 15-day IL with a left forearm strain, retroactive to April 25, amongst a series of roster moves. The Cubs selected the contract of lefty reliever Richard Lovelady from Iowa, and he will take Wicks’ spot on the active roster. Additionally, lefty reliever Luke Little was optioned to Triple-A and righty reliever Daniel Palencia was recalled.

It’s another difficult blow to a team that has seemingly been struck by the injury bug at every corner.

The team currently has 7 players on the injured list, including Wicks — Kyle Hendricks (15-day, back), Caleb Kilian (60-day, right shoulder) Julian Merryweather (60-day, right shoulder), Drew Smyly (15-day, hip), Justin Steele (15-day, hamstring), Cody Bellinger (10-day, rib fractures), Seiya Suzuki (10-day, oblique).

Wicks, 24, had just started to turn a corner in his season. In his last outing on Tuesday against the Astros, the lefty tossed 6 innings of 2-run ball. It was his best performance of the season. He was scheduled to start Sunday’s finale in Boston but was scratched Saturday night, replaced by righty Hayden Wesneski. Wicks has a 4.70 ERA with a 1.52 WHIP in 5 starts.

All season, Craig Counsell has dealt with injuries to his starting rotation. It started before the season began when Taillon suffered a back injury that caused him to start the season on the IL.

Then, on Opening Day, Steele suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on the IL. He’s set to make his first rehab start this week. After some early season struggles, Hendricks landed on the IL with a back injury and now Wicks’ forearm tightness means the Cubs are relying on just two of their Opening Day rotation — Shota Imanaga and Javier Assad.

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Now, the Cubs will operate their pitching staff with no real length options. Ben Brown and Wesneski were multi-inning options for Counsell, but both are now pressed into the rotation due to the injuries. Lovelady, 28, has pitched in multi-inning stints with Iowa this season but has not pitched more than 2.1 innings in an outing. He has a 5.26 ERA in 73 career games in the big leagues with the Royals and A’s. 

Keegan Thompson, Colten Brewer and Lovelady can provide some multi-inning relief, but not the long relief that a Brown or Wesneski can. Lovelady has a 5.84 ERA in 12.1 innings across 10 games for Iowa.

The hope for the Cubs would be they can manage the next week and a half or so like that and then hope that some combination of Steele, Hendricks or Smyly will be healthy and ready to rejoin the team.

Little, 23, allowed 5 runs on 3 hits in 0.2 innings in Saturday’s loss to Boston. Swapping him with Palencia (6.00 ERA, 6 IP) provides Counsell with a fresh reliever arm amidst a long stretch until their next off day — May 9.

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