No matter how many fans Tweet or comment that Brian Duensing should be desginated for assignment, the Cubs are not yet inclined to take such drastic measures.
Duensing was placed on the disabled list Friday morning with left shoulder inflammation. He missed two weeks in early July with the same issue.
The 35-year-old veteran is in the midst of one of the roughest stretches of his career. Since May 13, Duensing carries an 11.28 ERA and 2.28 WHIP, walking 21 batters and allowing 28 earned runs in 22.1 innings.
He had another tough outing Thursday night against the Padres at Wrigley Field, surrendering 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk over 2 innings.
After throwing 39 pitches, the Cubs opted to place him on the shelf the next morning, calling up young lefty Randy Rosario to take Duensing's place in the bullpen.
"He still has that discomfort there," Joe Maddon said. "You can see it. He just can't really finish things off like you'd like to. So we gotta back off.
"It's really important that we get him right for the latter part of the season — you saw what he did last year. There's so much ability here and he cares so much and he's such a big part of what we do and all of the above.
"So we want to make sure that he's well and right, so wer'e gonna choose this route right now."
Just how much the shoulder issue has led to Duensing's struggles is unclear. After the first trip to the DL, he came back with three scoreless outings in a row before giving up runs in four of his next five appearances (including Thursday night). So that two-week rest last month apparently didn't do the trick in helping to turn his season around.
The Cubs signed Duensing to a two-year, $7 million deal over the winter to put the finishing touches on a revamped bullpen.
At the time, the move was greeted with almost unanimous praise, as Duensing was fantastic in his first season with the Cubs in 2017 — 2.74 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, career-high 8.8 K/9 across 68 appearances.
He began 2018 looking like that same steady veteran, making 17 appearances before he gave up his first run on May 13.
It's easy to point to the struggles that have led to Duensing's overall line this year, but it's not as easy to explain "why." Is the shoulder issue the reason why his strikeout rate has fallen off 10.3 percent since last year? Or that his walk rate is at a career-high 15.9 percent, more than double his rate from last season (7 percent)?
Either way, the Cubs aren't ready to cut ties with Duensing just yet, nor should they be.
The trade deadline came and went and the Cubs added two more arms to their bullpen, but both — Jesse Chavez and Brandon Kintzler — are right-handed.
While the Cubs have plenty of left-handed depth in their rotation — four of the five starters are southpaws — they're not as fortunate in the bullpen.
Justin Wilson has had some nice stretches this season, but he's still walking 6.3 batters per nine innings. Rosario has a 1.97 ERA, but the underlying numbers behind it scream that a regression is coming.
At some point, the Cubs may opt to move Mike Montgomery back to the bullpen to reduce the wear and tear on his arm as he approaches a new career high in innings pitched. They also have Drew Smyly ramping up in his return from Tommy John surgery.
But Smyly is still several weeks away from the big leagues in a best case scenario and Montgomery is currently needed in the rotation, so the Cubs can't be too picky when it comes to their left-handed options out of the bullpen.
They might as well keep trying to get Duensing back to his 2017 form because at some point in September and October, the Cubs are going to need a reliable southpaw out of the bullpen.