Cubs leaving the door open for Kyle Ryan to join Opening Day bullpen

2 years agoTony Andracki

The Cubs are one full week into summer camp and only a pair of left-handed pitchers are missing from the Wrigley Field crew.

José Quintana is still a week away from resuming his throwing program after a thumb injury and reliever Kyle Ryan is in Chicago but is not yet through the intake protocol after a process-related delay.

Ryan is coming from Florida and while he hasn’t been able to join his teammates, he’s still been getting his work in.

He threw a simulated live bullpen session late last week and then tossed another bullpen earlier this week at home.

Opening Day is only two weeks away and the Cubs are not sure exactly when Ryan will be able to get on the field, but they’re optimistic he will be ready by July 24.

“We still have to get our eyes on him,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “I feel like there is [still time] because of the work that he’s done and what he’s had access to back home. … He should be on par with where a lot of guys are. Obviously getting him here, getting him through the protocol of gaining access to the facility and coming to Chicago – that’s gonna dictate a lot of what we can do.

“The sooner he gets clear to do that, obviously he’s going to have more time. He’s done the grunt work. I feel really good about where he’s at in conversations that we’ve had.”

Ryan, 28, was a huge part of the Cubs bullpen last year, leading the team with 73 appearances. He did not make the Opening Day roster but joined the team on the first road trip of the season and quickly earned the trust as a reliable lefty out of the bullpen.

He finished with a 3.54 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 14 holds while neutralizing left-handed hitters to a .228 batting average and .577 OPS.

Ryan has fared well enough against righties in his career (.257 AVG, .727 OPS) that he should be an effective weapon for the Cubs even with the 3-batter minimum in place for the 2020 season.

The Cubs have other left-handed options for the Opening Day bullpen – Brad Wieck, Danny Hultzen, Rex Brothers – but they also have the benefit of extra roster spots so they could still break camp with Ryan even if he’s not 100% ready physically.

“With the expanded rosters, hopefully we get to a point where he’s in a good enough place to help us right away,” Hottovy said, “and then we do have other guys so we don’t have to rely on him every single day or back-to-backs right away.”

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