Carl Edwards Jr.

Cubs move on from Carl Edwards Jr., sending reliever to Padres

Cubs move on from Carl Edwards Jr., sending reliever to Padres

Carl Edwards Jr. is getting a change of scenery.

The Cubs dealt the embattled reliever to the San Diego Padres Wednesday afternoon along with international bonus pool money in exchange for left-handed pitcher Brad Wieck.

Edwards — who turns 28 in September — has a 5.87 ERA and 1.11 WHIP this season in 20 appearances with the Cubs. He was sent down during the first week of April after a rough start to the season and then went on the injured list in early June with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. 

When Edwards returned to the big leagues on the Cubs' last homestand, he made just one appearance in which he got only one out while hitting a batter, walking a guy and giving up a single. The organization immediately sent him back down to the minor leagues the next day.

Edwards was a huge part of the Cubs bullpen from 2016-18, posting a 3.03 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP and 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 167 appearances during that span. At various points over the last few years, the Cubs — and especially manager Joe Maddon — tabbed Edwards as a potential closer of the future with his nasty stuff and ability to miss bats and induce weak contact.

But it never materialized for the right-hander with the Cubs, between issues with his mechanics and the mental side of the game. 

In return, the Cubs get a bit of salary relief to help with the Nicholas Castellanos acquisition and also added Wieck to the southpaw mix.

Wieck, 27, has 31 strikeouts in 24.2 innings for the Padres this season, but also sports a 6.57 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He had a 6.11 ERA in 14 minor-league appearances prior to his stint in San Diego.

Over his minor-league career, Wieck has 12.5 K/9 and a 3.16 ERA while working mostly as a reliever.

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Cubs demote Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A Iowa, call up Rowan Wick

Cubs demote Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A Iowa, call up Rowan Wick

Carl Edward Jr.'s return to Chicago didn't last long. 

Three days -- and one appearance -- after being called up from Triple-A, Edwards is reportedly headed back to Iowa: 

His lone appearance over the weekend came in the last inning of Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Padres, facing four batters before getting the last out. He allowed one earned run on one hit, but both walked and hit a batter; the two runners he inherited would score as well.

It's been a rough season for righty, who's spent much of the year on the IL or in Iowa. Back in early June, he was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left thoracic strain. When healthy, he's pitched 15.1 innings to the tune of a 5.87 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. 

Up in his place is Rowan Wick, who himself has seen time in both Chicago and Iowa this season. Wick's latest stretch in Triple-A has been lights out: 

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.