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.