Cubs welcome back Marcus Stroman for stretch run — in a new role
Marcus Stroman is officially back on the Cubs pitching staff.
Though he is returning in a new role.
The Cubs activated the veteran right-hander Friday afternoon before an important series in Arizona. In a corresponding move, rookie reliever Daniel Palencia was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs will utilize Stroman as a reliever and he came out of the bullpen to toss 2 shutout innings in Friday’s 6-4 loss. He struck out 3, walked 1, gave up a hit and threw 31 pitches.
“He’ll be in the bullpen for now,” David Ross told reporters in Arizona. “I don’t know that he’s got the pitch count yet to give us real length from a starting role. Those things can change. He’s able to give us some competition, some length.
“Kind of read and react as things go. Guys are always in the mix of who’s healthy, who’s not. That stuff pops up a lot. We’re gonna continue to do what’s best for us moving forward. We’ve got 15 [games] left so any way he can help us out, he’s gonna do and we’re happy he’s back.”
Stroman was initially placed on the IL with hip inflammation on Aug. 1 and expected to come off the shelf when first available on Aug. 16. But a rib cartilage injury popped up that week and he has missed the last month while in a recovery process.
In his last bullpen earlier in the week, Stroman said he threw 3 innings and around 45-50 pitches. He was anticipating throwing 4 or 5 innings during his next outing — which could now come out of the Cubs bullpen.
The rotation has been pitching well in recent weeks and with the end of the regular season coming up quick, there wasn’t enough time for Stroman to fully build back up as a starter.
The Cubs were just hopeful to get a healthy Stroman back, however they could.
“The more good players we can have on the team to help out,” Ross said. “Marcus has got a proven track record and getting him back was an important step.”
Stroman was an All-Star and the Cubs’ ace in the first few months of the season. He had a 2.28 ERA and 14 quality starts under his belt entering the final week of June but ran into a rough patch from there with a 9.00 ERA over his next 7 starts before landing on the IL.
He has not made a relief appearance since his rookie season of 2014 but he just wants to help the team however he can.
“I told [the coaches], ‘I don’t mind, I’m perfectly good with coming out of the ‘pen,'” Stroman said. “I think I’ll be great out of the ’pen. I feel like my stuff plays when I’m healthy — it plays against anybody in whatever inning.
“So whatever the team needs to contribute whether it be me coming out of the ‘pen or me starting at some point, I’m healthy. I’m going to be back and it’s just a matter of doing anything we can to win honestly at this point.”
Palencia, 23, was called up in earlier in the summer and made his big-league debut in Milwaukee on July 4. He was 5-2 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 21 appearances.
The young right-hander has a big fastball that touches triple digits but walks were an issue (13 in 22 innings).