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Cubs News

Cubs add veteran to bullpen, option Ethan Roberts

6 days agoTony Andracki

The Cubs bullpen is drawing closer to full health.

Veteran Mark Leiter Jr. was activated off the 15-day IL Tuesday and in a corresponding move, the Cubs optioned Ethan Roberts to Triple-A Iowa.

Leiter was placed on the IL on June 23 with a forearm strain. At the time, the Cubs were hopeful he would only be on the shelf for the minimum stay and that’s how it played out, as Tuesday represented the first day he was eligible to come off the IL.

Craig Counsell utilized Leiter right away, as the righty tossed a scoreless 8th inning during Tuesday night’s 9-2 win in Baltimore.

Leiter has been one of the Cubs’ top leverage arms in the bullpen over the last few seasons. He has flourished against left-handed pockets in the opposing batting order and has often pitched in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

The 33-year-old has 7 saves and 42 holds over the last 3 seasons. He tied for the team-high with 69 appearances last season and is 2nd only to Héctor Neris (33) in games this season (32).

[WATCH: Counsell provides injury updates]

Overall, Leiter has a 5.34 ERA and 1.40 WHIP on the season but much of that damage came in the final month – and weeks – before he went on the IL.

He had a 0.90 ERA as recently as May 21 but has surrendered 15 earned runs in 8.2 innings (15.58 ERA) since then. That included 4 straight appearances with a run allowed before landing on the IL.

Leiter will join Neris, Tyson Miller and Porter Hodge in the back end of the Cubs bullpen.

The Cubs are anticipating getting several other key members of the bullpen back at some point after the All-Star Break. Julian Merryweather (rib fracture) is starting a rehab assignment this week and should return in late July.

Ben Brown (neck) is on track to return later this month as well and Adbert Alzolay (forearm) has begun throwing bullpens.

Roberts did not allow a run in 3 appearances (4 innings) with the big-league club during his stint. It had been more than 2 years since Roberts appeared in an MLB game as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

He has not allowed a run in the minors yet this season, either. In 14 games (15 innings), Roberts has a 0.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 18 strikeouts across 3 levels of the Cubs minor league system.

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