Cubs

Cubs see another reliever go down as Steve Cishek hits the injured list

Cubs see another reliever go down as Steve Cishek hits the injured list

The Cubs bullpen has seen better days.

Saturday, the Cubs placed right-hander Steve Cishek on the 10-day injured list with right hip inflammation. In a corresponding move, the team recalled Dillon Maples from Triple-A Iowa.

Cishek was one of Joe Maddon’s most reliable relievers before the All-Star break, as the 33-year-old posted a 2.75 ERA in 40 appearances. He’s had a tough going over the last three weeks or so, allowing runs in four of his last eight appearances. He holds a 10.50 ERA over that span, surrendering 11 hits — three of which have left the ballpark.

Many might attribute Cishek’s struggles to his usage, which isn’t the most far-fetched argument. A year after leading the Cubs in appearances with 80, Cishek’s 54 appearances this season is No. 1 on the team. In fact, he’s appeared in 14 of the Cubs 26 games post-All-Star break, tops on the team.

Perhaps a short stint on the injured list could bode well for Cishek, allowing him to reset and get a bit of a breather. However, his injury comes at a bad time for the Cubs bullpen, as Cishek is the fourth Cubs reliever to hit the shelf this week alone.

Closer Craig Kimbrel landed on the 10-day injured list on Monday with right knee inflammation, with the reliable Brandon Kintzler joining him there on Tuesday with right pec inflammation. Plus, the Cubs placed lefty Kyle Ryan on the bereavement list Friday, recalling Alec Mills in his place. According to MLB rules, Ryan has to be away from the team for a minimum of three games, but he could be out upwards of seven.

Fortunately for the Cubs, each of Kimbrel, Kintzler and Ryan could be back soon. 

Kimbrel initially said that he only planned to miss the minimum 10 days while on the injured list, which would put him in line to be activated on Thursday. The Cubs certainly won't rush him back, though, as they need him to be healthy while they battle for a postseason spot over the next two months. 

In the meantime, the Cubs have to figure out who will close games while the aforementioned relievers rehab. Maddon said that it's "committee time" after Kimbrel landed on the injured list, but Cishek was likely to get the first crack at a save opportunity. Without him, who pitches in the ninth inning is more unclear than ever, with Pedro Strop's recent struggles only clouding things further.

Be that as it may, the Cubs bullpen looks something like this, as things currently stand:

Pedro Strop
Tyler Chatwood
Rowan Wick
Derek Holland
David Phelps
Duane Underwood Jr.
Alec Mills
Dillon Maples

Maples is making his fourth stint with the Cubs this season. The 27-year-old holds a 5.63 ERA in 10 big league appearances, though he's struck out 13 batters in eight innings. He has walked 10 batters over that stretch, however.

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Ken Rosenthal says there's ‘not a chance’ Cubs re-sign Nicholas Castellanos

Ken Rosenthal says there's ‘not a chance’ Cubs re-sign Nicholas Castellanos

With MLB’s Winter Meetings kicking off Monday, the chances of the Cubs re-signing free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos aren’t looking great.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), there’s “not a chance, at least for the moment,” the two sides reunite this offseason. Rosenthal cited how the Cubs are telling representatives of even low-budget free agents the organization needs to clear payroll space before entering serious negotiations.

The Cubs’ 2020 luxury tax payroll is projected to be $214 million (per Roster Resource), over MLB’s $208 million threshold. Should their payroll exceed $208 million, the Cubs will be penalized for their overages for a second straight season. Thus, the organization is looking to get under the threshold this offseason. Signing Castellanos would complicate that.

Rosenthal’s report brings back memories of last offseason; the Cubs were handcuffed by a self-imposed budget due to their payroll being right around the luxury tax threshold. They were economic in their spending, adding low-cost free agents Daniel Descalso, Tony Barnette, Brad Brach, Xavier Cedeno and Kendall Graveman. Whether it be due to injury, ineffectiveness or some combination of the two, those players had minimal-to-no impacts on the 2019 Cubs.

Castellanos, on the other hand, was an integral piece of the Cubs last season after they acquired him from the Tigers at the trade deadline. The 27-year-old slashed .321/.356/.646, hitting 16 home runs and 21 doubles in 51 games. That performance improved Castellanos' value entering free agency, and multiple teams are reportedly pursuing him — including the Cubs.

Could the Cubs shed enough salary to open space for Castellanos on the payroll? Sure, but they’re looking to upgrade their second base, center field and high-leverage relief production. As great as Castellanos was with the Cubs, they ultimately may not have the payroll space to bring him back.

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Kyle Schwarber tops off big 2019 by marrying longtime girlfriend Paige Hartman

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USA TODAY

Kyle Schwarber tops off big 2019 by marrying longtime girlfriend Paige Hartman

2019 has been a momentous year for Kyle Schwarber.

On the diamond, Schwarber had a career season, posting personal bests in home runs (38) and RBIs (92). Something clicked for him offensively post-All-Star break, as he slashed .280/.366/.631 while hitting 20 homers.

Schwarber topped that off in a big way Saturday, marrying longtime girlfriend and highschool sweetheart Paige Hartman. Take a look at some visuals from the event:

Here's to a lifetime of happiness for the couple!

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