The light at the end of the tunnel for Cubs
MILWAUKEE — The light at the end of the tunnel is approaching for the Cubs.
After some tough injury luck over the last month, reinforcements are on the way for David Ross’ bunch as the Cubs slowly regain full health.
There’s also some good news on the schedule front after a difficult June that included two West Coast trips and nearly an entire month of matchups against playoff-caliber teams.
The Cubs just finished off a trip to Los Angeles where they no-hit the Dodgers Thursday night but lost the final 3 games of the series. After playing Sunday Night Baseball, the team got into Milwaukee about 3:30 a.m. ahead of their all-important series with the first-place Brewers.
“These are some of the tests you go through throughout the season that are part of being a major leaguer and trying to get to that end spot where you’re in the playoffs and got a chance to compete for a world championship,” Ross said.
The Cubs were missing one of their best players for the series opener in Milwaukee Monday as Anthony Rizzo deals with another back issue. He was getting treatment pregame and Ross didn’t have a timeline or next steps planned for the All-Star first baseman.
“He was pretty sore,” Ross said after the game.
But apart from that, the Cubs actually have had a lot of good news on the injury front lately. Nico Hoerner, Trevor Williams and Justin Steele all began their rehab assignments with Triple-A Iowa Sunday and are nearing a return to the big leagues.
David Bote (shoulder) is also progressing and will likely head out on a rehab stint soon.
Matt Duffy doesn’t have the same prognosis — at least right now. He has missed the last month with a low back strain and was progressing well before pushing it a bit too hard a couple weeks ago in New York. The veteran is taking some grounders and swings and is working his way back to full baseball activities, Ross said.
Speaking of reinforcements, the Cubs added a fresh arm to the bullpen Monday in the form of Trevor Megill. In a corresponding move, they optioned Tommy Nance down to Triple-A Iowa.
Megill, 27, made his MLB debut earlier this season and has not allowed a run in 4 appearances (3 innings).
Nance, 30, is one of the feel-good stories on the Cubs this season. He also made his MLB debut this year (May 17) and emerged as a valuable piece for Ross out of the bullpen.
He has scuffled a bit of late, giving up runs in his last 4 outings. But he also provided some needed length Sunday night with 3 innings and limited the damage to 1 run while striking out 5.
“He really put himself on the map when he first showed up in how he performed,” Ross said. “You get around, people are able to watch a little bit of video, they see your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe had to make a few adjustments.
But then I thought [Sunday] was a huge positive. I thought he looked great. He was nasty. Gave up 1 run on a triple to Mookie Betts and then a sac fly to a really good lineup.”
In all, Nance has a 3.20 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings this season.
“I told him and our front office told him and Tommy [Hottovy] told him talking to him today when we optioned him down — nothing but positives,” Ross said. “Take a break. He was injured last year, didn’t get a lot of innings under his belt, so I don’t think this is a bad thing overall and it’s nothing but positives from our standpoint.”