Why the Cubs opted to part ways with Dillon Maples
MILWAUKEE — The Cubs shook up their roster ahead of Sunday’s season finale against the Brewers.
Rookie pitcher Keegan Thompson was activated off the IL and got the start in Milwaukee. He had been dealing with right shoulder inflammation since Sept. 2.
Nico Hoerner was also activated after missing the last two months with an oblique strain. He was in the starting lineup Sunday, playing shortstop and hitting fifth.
To clear room for the two youngsters on the roster, Dillon Maples was designated for assignment and Nick Martini was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Maples has been with the Cubs organization for the last decade. He was a 14th-round pick in 2011 and made his MLB in 2017.
In 54.2 innings over the last 5 seasons, the 29-year-old right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 5.10 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and 79 strikeouts while working in low-leverage situations.
Maples was out of major-league options and made the Opening Day bullpen the last two seasons.
“Look, this guy has worked his tail off to continue to evolve, try to get his stuff in the zone consistently,” David Ross said. “I think we’re just at a point in the season — in his career — it was just getting to a space where we wanted to take a look at some other guys and a roster crunch. There’s some people in the organization that feel like we’ve just run out of time.
“We wish him the best in his career and hopefully for his sake, he catches on with somebody and is able to have a long, successful major league career. It just doesn’t look right now at this time that it’s gonna be with us.”
After showing promise as a draft pick out of Pinecrest High School, Maples didn’t put it all together until the 2017 campaign in the Cubs system. He struck out a whopping 100 batters in 63.1 innings in the minors that year before earning a late-season promotion to Chicago.
Maples features a wipeout slider and a fastball that sits in the upper-90s but he has struggled with control in his career (8.2 BB/9, 14 hit batters, 8 wild pitches).
The Cubs altered his delivery and mechanics last year at the alternate site and he had an impressive spring training. He dealt with injuries throughout 2021 but posted a 2.59 ERA in 28 appearances.
“I think it’s frustrating for him and everybody,” Ross said. “You want to try to get most out of every player. When stuff doesn’t work out for a player, it just feels like our responsibility, especially when you have that type of stuff. You hate to see it. You see this a lot with players that maybe somewhere down the line, somebody else is able to figure it out.
“We’ve put a lot of effort in trying to help him in that and we just haven’t been able to do that for him. Sometimes you feel like as a staff, you’ve failed him in some way and you want what’s best for the player because the stuff really is intriguing.”