Cubs shake up pitching staff, planning to stretch out Adam Warren

Cubs shake up pitching staff, planning to stretch out Adam Warren

The Cubs made a bunch of roster moves Tuesday to shuffle up their pitching staff.

Clayton Richard is headed to the disabled list with a blister/nail issue on the middle finger of his throwing hand and Adam Warren was sent down to Triple-A Iowa to stretch out as a starting pitcher.

The Cubs called up left-hander Gerardo Concepcion and righty Spencer Patton as reinforcements for the big-league bullpen, joining Carl Edwards Jr., who arrived in Chicago Monday when the Cubs put Dexter Fowler on the disabled list.

When Warren came to the Cubs from the New York Yankees in the Starlin Castro deal, they envisioned the 28-year-old right-hander as a starter at some point down the line. 

After making 25 appearances out of the bullpen with the Cubs, he will get that opportunity in the coming weeks. 

The plan is for Warren to make two starts in the minors after throwing 51 pitches Sunday against the Pirates. The Cubs will have him start one game before the All-Star Break, but don't have a set gameplan for how the rotation will line up after the midseason break.

The idea is for Warren to help provide some relief for a Cubs starting rotation that will be taxed during a stretch of 24 games in 24 days, as the Cubs do not have an off-day until the All-Star Break.

"For Adam, we had talked about that during spring training about the potential to have him start," Joe Maddon said. "This stretch we're on right now with starters not getting any kind of blow, we thought it was the most optimal moment to attempt to do something like this."

Maddon was not ready to make Warren's exact plan public, but did admit the swingman has a specific schedule they hope to stick to that would include one pre-break start.

Maddon also said the Cubs' big lead in the division (11.5 games entering play Tuesday night against the Cardinals) had no factor on stretching Warren out, but the veteran manager has talked almost daily about his desire to keep his guys fresh for a potential World Series run.

"Between rainouts and off-days, a lot of our guys have pitched with an extra day's rest," Maddon said. "Now we're going through this stretch where they're not. I'd have to say that our starters have been pretty successful in this first half and a lot of them have had the benefit of an extra day for a variety of different reasons.

"So let's keep it going. This is where it gets a little bit sticky. Guys get into this time of year, leading into August and September and you really want to make sure they are healthy and well, so we thought it was the right thing to do."

Richard was a revelation with the Cubs late last season, but has struggled mightily in 2016, posting a 7.30 ERA and 2.189 WHIP.

Over his last eight appearances, the 32-year-old southpaw has surrendered 11 hits, seven runs (five earned) and three walks in just four innings (an 11.25 ERA).

Concepcion, 24, signed with the Cubs out of Cuba before the 2012 season and has mostly struggled in the minors before figuring out this season and posting a 1.29 ERA and 0.971 WHIP in 22 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Patton, 28, spent a couple days in Chicago earlier this season and has been dominant in the minors with a 1.04 ERA, 1.038 WHIP and a whopping 42 strikeouts in 26 innings in the minors.

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Why can't a trade be looked at as a win-win? 

There doesn't always have to be a clear winner and loser.

Prior to Jose Quintana taking the ball for Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Joe Maddon was asked about the players (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana as well as the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

Gleyber Torres is absolutely killing it in New York, hitting .323 with a 1.014 OPS, 9 homers and 24 RBI in only 29 games. Six of those homers have come in the last week alone. 

With the White Sox, both Jimenez and Cease have found success in Double-A and Advanced Class-A, respectively.

Jimenez is hitting .331 with a .992 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBI in 35 games. Cease is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

As the Cubs work to get their offense settled into a consistent groove, some Cubs fans have been looking at what might've been with guys like Torres and Jimenez.

"You can't have it both ways, man," Maddon said. "I'm happy for Gleyber. When he left, we talked about it. And we talked about the kids that went to the White Sox. It's good stuff. 

"I'm really disappointed if anybody's disappointed in the fact we won the World Series in 2016 and the fact that the guy we're talking about that we had to give up Gleyber for was so instrumental in that happening. That's bad process if you're gonna get stuck on something like that. Be happy for Gleyber. Be happy for him."

Maddon has been a fan of Torres' since he saw him in spring training in 2015, Maddon's first year in the Cubs organization.

"This kid's 21, with high, high baseball intellect," Maddon said. "He's very similar to Javy on the field. I've had some great conversations with him in the past. 

"The first time I saw him in spring training, I thought this guy's for real. It was like one at-bat, line drive to RF, I said who is this guy? And then you have a conversation with him. He's solid."

Maddon's point is a great one — would Cubs fans prefer to still have Torres and NOT have the 2016 World Series championship? Because that title doesn't happen without Chapman, regardless of how you feel about him as a person or what the Cubs had to give up to acquire him.

"Don't play that game," Maddon said. "Be happy for [Torres]. I'm gonna be happy when Eloy and Dylan make it up here. All these dudes, I want them to get here and be really good. And the guys that we get, I want them to be really good. 

"I don't understand why somebody's gotta lose all the time. This is an absolute classic example of what was good for both teams."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.