Cubs bullpen already in crisis mode
The Cubs today placed outfielder Justin Ruggiano on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He injured himself yesterday trying to make a catch in the top of the ninth inning, when the Diamondbacks rallied for 5 runs against the Cubs bullpen. The bullpen is such a problem area now that instead of calling up an outfielder, the Cubs brought up two relief pitchers.
In addition to Ruggiano going on the DL, the Cubs optioned reliever Blake Parker to Class AAA Iowa. Left-handed reliever Zac Rosscup and right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez have been recalled from Iowa. Rosscup was up with the Cubs last week for the day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Ramirez is looking to make his major-league debut. The Cubs received Ramirez last year from the Rangers in the deal that sent Matt Garza to Texas.
The upshot is that the Cubs are carrying a 13-man pitching staff, and that could continue for the next couple of weeks.
As far as Ruggiano goes, he said he has a Grade 2 strain and that the best-case scenario is that he’ll miss 3-4 weeks. The Cubs could have called up an outfielder such as Josh Vitters or Matt Szczur, but apparently they feel the bullpen situation is so dire that they need the extra arms.
In other injury news, pitching prospect C.J. Edwards is in Chicago to have his right shoulder checked out. The Cubs say Edwards felt fatigue in the shoulder during his last bullpen session at Class AA Tennessee. The Cubs got Edwards last year from Texas in the Garza trade.
In Wednesday’s loss, Pedro Strop gave up a hit and 2 walks as he suffered the loss in a closer’s situation. James Russell replaced Strop to face left-handed hitter Miguel Montero, and Russell was tagged with a blown save when he gave up an RBI single to Montero.
The closer’s situation is in flux, or “organic,” as Renteria termed it, and he said he’d go to whoever is available if the Cubs find themselves in a save situation today.
“The good problem that we have is that we’re constantly fighting,” Renteria said. “We’re in the ballgame. That’s a good problem. The difficult thing is managing all the usage. Sometimes you lose a battle to win the war, so to speak.”
From the game notes: Cubs hitters have drawn 64 walks in the team’s first 20 games after drawing 45 in the first 20 games of last year. Anthony Rizzo leads the team with 13 walks, and Luis Valbuena is second with 12 … Cubs starting pitchers have gone at least 7 innings in each of the first three games of this series, posting a 1.69 ERA. The last time the Cubs had four starters go at least 7 apiece was June 15-18 of last year, with Scott Feldman and Matt Garza doing it against the Mets and Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija doing it against the Cardinals
Class AAA Iowa was off. Tennessee (AA) beat Birmingham 9-1. Corey Black got the win, working 6 hitless and shutout innings while walking three and striking out eight. He improved t 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA. Rubi Silva hit his second home run. John Andreoli was 3-for-6. Dustin Geiger was 2-for-5, as was Wes Darvil.
Daytona (A) fell 6-3 to Clearwater. Rob Zastryany took the loss, working 4.2 innings and giving up 7 hits sand 4 runs. He walked one and struck out five in falling to 1-1 with a 6.38 ERA. Gioskar Amaya notched his second straight 3-hit game. He had a double, an RBI and a stolen base. Marco Hernandez was 2-for-4. Bijan Rademacher extended a hit streak to eight games. His .370 average is second in the Florida State League.
The Kane County Cougars (A) beat Beloit 10-4. Tyler Skulina started and went 4.1 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs. He walked four and struck out two. Shawon Dunston Jr. hit his first homer of the season as he went 2-for-4, adding a double and ending up with 3 RBI. Will Remillard was 4-for-4 with a run, a double and 3 RBI. Jordan Hankins was 3-for-4, with a run, a double, 2 RBI and a stolen base.