Cubs taking cautious approach with Brad Wieck’s irregular heartbeat
The Cubs got a dose of good news/bad news in regards to their bullpen Friday afternoon.
Ryan Tepera — the team’s top right-handed setup man — was activated off the injured list after missing the last 10 days with a calf strain. But the Cubs also had to put southpaw Brad Wieck on the 10-day IL with an irregular heartbeat.
Cory Abbott — who threw 3 innings Thursday night — was optioned to Triple-A Iowa and Kyle Ryan was recalled from the minors to take Wieck’s spot.
The heart issue has been a recurring problem for Wieck dating back to early last year. He missed time in spring training 2020 and eventually underwent a cardiac ablation procedure to try to correct the abnormal heartbeat.
Wieck only made 1 appearance in 2020 due to a variety of leg injuries (hamstring, knee) and did not make the Opening Day roster this season but has been an important member of the bullpen while shuttling between Triple-A Iowa and the big leagues. He has not allowed a run in 15 games (17 innings) with the Cubs while striking out 28 batters.
The 29-year-old lefty threw 2 shutout innings in Tuesday night’s game. The irregular heartbeat popped back up a couple days prior and the Cubs ran some tests and put a monitor on Wieck in the days leading up to Tuesday’s outing.
The tests revealed a couple of episodes at night but the team ultimately determined it was no concern to have Wieck continue to pitch.
“I think everybody was on board with it’s safe for him to go out there and compete,” David Ross said. “We weren’t running any high risk of injury. And then it turned into: he needs to be right mentally. I think the risk is low but the risk is probably something extremely serious.
“So balancing that and then the mental state of a person that needs to go out there and pitch with energy, excitement, adrenaline — all those things, heart issues that you deal with at times. Make sure he’s in the right space.”
As Ross said, the Cubs doctors felt it was a low risk of any major heart episode occurring but ultimately determined it wasn’t worth the risk at all right now until they have more information. And the team doesn’t want this to be in the back of his head when he’s out there trying to get MLB hitters out.
“With his history, anything you’re dealing with is extremely serious,” Ross said. “I think we want to all be on the same page of making sure he’s safe and being able to go out there and compete. It’s important for us to know that, for him to know that and have a peace of mind.
“He’s having a great year so we want to make sure he’s not out there distracted.”
The Cubs will continue to monitor Wieck in the coming days and weeks and put him through a series of tests. As of right now, there is no timetable for his return.
Wieck was initially acquired by the Cubs at the trade deadline in 2019 when Chicago dealt Carl Edwards Jr. to the San Diego Padres.
The organization immediately got Wieck into the Pitch Lab and fine-tuned his mechanics and curveball. He emerged as a weapon out of the bullpen down the stretch that season (3.60 ERA in 14 games).
All told, Wieck is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 15.4 K/9 in his Cubs career (30 games).