The Cubs could see this coming, creating a nine-man bullpen by designating outfielder Matt Szczur for assignment and promoting lefty Rob Zastryzny from Triple-A Iowa before Saturday night’s 11-6 loss to the New York Yankees at Wrigley Field.
Zastryzny became insurance against Brett Anderson and a Yankee lineup that leads the American League in runs scored, homers, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The bullpen has been feeling the domino effect since five days ago, when Anderson got only four outs in a 10-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, part of a deeper problem where the Cubs haven’t been getting enough innings out of their rotation.
Zastryzny earned a World Series ring after last year’s impressive big-league debut, putting up a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings and becoming the first pitcher drafted by the Theo Epstein administration to play for the Cubs.
A two-sport star at Villanova University, Szczur could have pursued opportunities in the NFL but chose baseball after getting drafted in the fifth round in 2010 and agreeing to a $1.5 million bonus. Buried on the depth chart in Chicago, Szczur is out of minor-league options and should draw trade interest from a team that might ultimately advance his career.
“It’s excruciating,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s everything you want in a teammate. He’s always upbeat. He’s always ready to play. He knows he’s not playing, but he’s always upbeat and ready to go. And then he supports everybody around him. You want him on your team. You want him in your organization. He’s that kind of a guy.”
On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Tony Andracki, Kelly Crull, Scott Changnon and Jeff Nelson give us their memories of Joe Maddon's time with the Cubs and discuss David Ross and Joe Espada's candidacy to be the next manager.
01:30 Kelly's memories of Joe from the perspective of a reporter
06:00 Going back to Hazleton with Joe
07:45 Joe's legacy as manager of the Cubs
16:00 How Joe impacted Javy Baez' career
18:00 David Ross and Joe Espada may be the leaders to replace Joe Maddon
Listen here or via the embedded player below:
As the Cubs peruse over their list of managerial candidates, one name reportedly made a strong impression following his interview with the team.
According to NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan, Astros bench coach Joe Espada left the Cubs front office “exceptionally impressed” following his interview on Monday.
Espada, 44, has spent the last two seasons as Astros bench coach following three seasons as Yankees third base coach. He is one of MLB’s more sought after managerial candidates this winter and one of three known external candidates for the Cubs’ opening, along with Joe Girardi and Gabe Kapler.
Former Cubs catcher and current front office assistant David Ross has been the presumed front runner for the Cubs' opening. But based on Kaplan’s report, Espada clearly has given Epstein and Co. something to think about, which makes sense, considering Espada is coming from an innovative Astros organization.
Epstein said at his end-of-season press conference that there’s no timeline for the Cubs’ managerial search. However, MLB prefers teams to not make big announcements during the World Series, which kicks off on Oct. 22. Thus, the Cubs may not make an announcement for little while longer, though this is purely speculation.
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