Cubs pitching staff gets a jolt: Robertson returns, Stroman right around the corner
The Cubs are currently playing their best baseball of the year and it’s no surprise that is coinciding with success from the pitching staff.
The team’s starting rotation has been on fire lately with a 2.37 ERA in 49.1 innings over the last 9 games.
In total, the Cubs entered play Wednesday with 23 straight scoreless innings after back-to-back shutouts in the first 2 games of the series against the Pirates.
The good news doesn’t stop there for David Ross’ squad.
Closer David Robertson was activated off the IL Wednesday and Marcus Stroman is projected as the Cubs’ starter for Thursday’s series opener with the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field.
Both players have been out for the last 10 days.
Stroman last pitched on May 1, turning in a gem in Milwaukee with 7 shutout innings. Robertson closed out the game that day for his 5th save and made appearances on May 4 and May 7 before landing on the IL with a bout of COVID-19.
“I definitely couldn’t have gone out there at the level they would need me to,” Robertson said. “And there’s also the fear of spreading it throughout your team. I don’t want to do that. I wanted to make sure early if I had it or not and then get out of there.”
Robertson said his energy was low initially and he didn’t do much activity for the first five days. He then slowly started ramping it up and was able to throw a couple times with Stroman at Wrigley Field.
He stayed in Chicago throughout the duration of his time on the IL and was grateful it was a minor case.
“First time [I had it],” he said. “Hopefully the last. Glad I’m vaccinated and boosted and all that. I think it helped.”
Robertson rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in 2020-21, so he’s familiar with finding creative ways to throw and keep his arm in shape at home.
With the de facto closer back, the Cubs bullpen is instantly stronger. He had 5 saves and a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings prior to the IL stint. In his absence, Rowan Wick got most of the 9th inning work with 3 saves on the recent road trip.
Stroman’s return also allows Keegan Thompson to fold back into the bullpen as another weapon for Ross to utilize.
Thompson made a pair of spot starts while Stroman was out, allowing 2 runs in 9 innings between the outings. He was a dominant force as a multi-inning reliever prior to that, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 23 innings out of the bullpen.
Behind Stroman, the Cubs will send out Kyle Hendricks (Friday), Justin Steele (Saturday) and Wade Miley (Sunday) against the Diamondbacks during the 4-game set.
“I thought he was throwing the ball as good as anybody before he went down,” Ross said of Stroman. “It’s nice to be able to get him back in the fold. I think this is a version of our rotation that we felt was gonna look like coming out of Spring Training.
“It’s just now finally coming together on [May 18]. That’s exciting from my seat.”