Strapped for bullpen arms, the Cubs today called righty Mitch Atkins up from Class AAA Iowa and sent Jeff Stevens back to Iowa. Stevens worked the previous 2 games, throwing 15 pitches last night and 36 the previous night.
Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija both have worked in three straight games, and if Lou can't go to Marshall today, it means he has no lefty reliever.
It hasn't been the greatest of seasons for Atkins, the Cubs' minor-league pitcher of the year last season. At Iowa this year, he was 6-10 with a 6.92 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP in 20 starts. In 108 innings, he gave up 121 hits and 37 walks while striking out 92. When the Cubs broke spring training, Lou talked of Atkins possibly being the first call-up, but Randy Wells passed him by and got the call instead. Last year, Atkins was 17-7 between Iowa and Class AA Tennessee. He led all Cubs minor-leaguers in wins and strikeouts. He also enjoyed a 12-game winning streak between Tennessee and Iowa.
B.J. Ryan apparently topped out at about 87 mph last night in his Iowa debut. He worked 1 inning, giving up 1 walk. The Cubs recently signed the former Blue Jays closer.
Hill is making his 19th straight start behind the plate.
Cubs batters have drawn 39 walks in their last six games, good for an average of 6.5 per game. Aramis Ramirez has at least 1 extra-base hit in each of his last six games, a career best. He has 5 doubles and 3 homers during this run.
Wind is blowing in, and it's a touch cool in the shade here. Enjoy.