Cubs bullpen dealt another blow on the injury front amid reshuffling
The hits keep coming for the Cubs…but not in a good way.
The bullpen is already short-handed but will be without another veteran reliever as Brad Boxberger was placed on the 15-day IL Saturday with a right forearm strain (retroactive to Sept. 22). Keegan Thompson was recalled to take his place on the roster.
Elsewhere, the Cubs did some reshuffling on the pitching staff by moving Javier Assad back to the bullpen with Marcus Stroman re-entering the rotation. Stroman gets the start Saturday after a pair of relief appearances in his return from the IL.
Boxberger missed four months earlier this season with a forearm strain and just returned on Sept. 8.
He made 5 appearances, allowing 2 runs on Thursday but otherwise worked scoreless outings.
The 35-year-old right-hander was signed in the winter to be a leverage arm for the Cubs, inking a 1-year, $2.8 million deal. He has 94 holds and 84 saves over his 12-year MLB career to go along with a 3.50 ERA.
The Cubs are already down closer Adbert Alzolay and veteran Michael Fulmer in the bullpen, as both high-leverage pitchers are also dealing with forearm injuries.
The injuries have left David Ross without many options to go to with the game on the line. Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. have been stalwarts at the back end of games all year, but each gave up 3 runs in recent outings.
Thompson was expected to be one of the Cubs’ top relievers entering the season but he has been up and down between Triple-A and the majors. In 19 big-league outings this year, he has a 4.71 ERA and 1.36 WHIP and walks have been a problem (6 BB/9 IP).
Assad has pitched well this year in a variety of roles. He has a 3.02 ERA in 10 starts and locked down a rotation spot in Stroman’s absence. He also has a 2.82 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 19 outings as a reliever capable of going multiple innings or in short bursts. He proved that Saturday with 4 shutout innings in relief of Stroman.
The Cubs bullpen also consists of a pair of former starters who were in the Opening Day rotation (Hayden Wesneski, Drew Smyly), a pair of rookies (Daniel Palencia, Luke Little) and a trade deadline addition (José Cuas).
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