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.”