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.
More bullpen updates:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 10, 2019
• Kimbrel (10-day IL) meeting team in Philadelphia, where it’s possible he’ll throw a bullpen session.
• Kintzler (10-day IL) throwing bullpen today.
• Ryan (bereavement list) will meet team in Philly as well.
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:
Duane Underwood Jr.
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.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.