Cubs shake up pitching staff amid West Coast trip
The year of roster action continued Tuesday for the Cubs with a pair of moves.
After Adbert Alzolay had to leave Monday night’s start in San Diego with a blister on his pitching hand, the Cubs placed him on the 10-day IL the following day. In his place, the team recalled pitcher Kohl Stewart from Triple-A Iowa.
A couple hours later — just before first pitch against the Padres Tuesday night — the Cubs activated Alec Mills from the IL and sent Cory Abbott back to Iowa.
Alzolay first felt the blister in his start last week against the Padres at Wrigley Field and it reared its head again Monday night. He tried to push through it but it made commanding his slider and sinker difficult so he was forced to come out of the game in the top of the 4th inning.
He played some light catch Tuesday but the Cubs ultimately placed him on the IL.
The Cubs have been open this spring about how they plan to be cognizant of Alzolay’s innings this season and sent him down to the alternate site early in the season as part of the workload management. So instead of pushing through the blister right now, they can make sure he’s fully healthy for his next outing while also taking advantage of the time off.
“Things are going to creep up, things are going to happen throughout the course of the year that you evaluate and you say, ‘you know what, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have a little bit of down time right now,'” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said.
Jake Arrieta dealt with a blister issue at the beginning of the month but only missed 1 start.
Mills has been on the IL since May 16 with a low back strain and has made a trio of rehab starts with Triple-A Iowa over the last few weeks. He last pitched on June 2, tossing 6 shutout innings allowing only 2 hits.
Mills could give the Cubs some length out of the bullpen and potentially join the rotation next week if needed.
Stewart, 26, made 2 starts for the Cubs last week in place of Trevor Williams (appendectomy). He posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 8.2 innings.
The Cubs initially optioned Stewart back to Triple-A Monday but recalled the right-hander when Alzolay went down.
“Very impressed from what we saw in spring training and him going through a couple mechanical things that he wanted to fix at the back end of spring training and then in the minor leagues and getting himself ready to help us out,” David Ross said of Stewart. “I was really impressed. I think he’s got a really nice way about him, the way he competes and the way he stays focused there for him.
“It was really nice to see and a nice pick-me-up when Trevor went down. It was a nice guy to be able to call on and gave us some surprisingly nice innings.”
Abbott, 25, made his MLB debut over the weekend in San Francisco and also gave the Cubs 1.1 innings in relief Monday night. He allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 3.1 innings over the 2 big-league appearances.