Rowan Wick

Cubs place Cole Hamels on injured list, designate Carlos González for assignment

Cubs place Cole Hamels on injured list, designate Carlos González for assignment

The Cubs will be without their most consistent starting pitchers for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, the Cubs placed left-hander Cole Hamels on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain. The team also designated outfielder Carlos González for assignment, promoting relievers Dillon Maples and Rowan Wick from Triple-A Iowa in corresponding moves.

Hamels exited Friday's game against the Reds ahead of the second inning after experiencing discomfort in his side throwing warmup pitches. Manager Joe Maddon said Hamels would be placed on the injured list with an oblique strain, making Saturday's announcement a mere formality.

This marks the second time in three seasons that Hamels has suffered an oblique injury. He missed nearly two months in 2017 with a right oblique strain, though he told Mark Gonzales from the Chicago Tribune that he doesn't think the injury will be as bad this time around.

Be that as it may, Hamels will likely be out for an extended period of time, which leaves the Cubs without 40 percent of their Opening Day starting rotation. Kyle Hendricks is currently on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, and while he could return before the All-Star break, his return date not set in stone.

Without Hamels and Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay and Tyler Chatwood will be fixtures in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future. The Cubs already announced that Alzolay will start Monday against the Pirates and that Chatwood will return to the bullpen. Now, Chatwood will likely return to starting, at least until Hendricks returns.

González is somewhat of a roster casualty. Since Hamels only pitched an inning last night, the Cubs were forced to stretch their bullpen out, using Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, Kyle Ryan and Steve Cishek. Chatwood, Strop and possibly Kimbrel were unavailable on Friday, hence the need for Maples and Wick to come up from Triple-A.

At the same time, González has struggled in big league action with the Indians and Cubs this season. The 33-year-old holds a .200/.289/.283 slashline in 145 at-bats, including a .175/.306/.300 line in 40 at-bats with the Cubs.

Maples hasn't allowed a run in 5 2/3 MLB innings this season, striking out 10 batters compared to nine walks. He has struggled with command in his young MLB career, walking 20 batters in 16 1/3 career innings. However, he's walked just two batters in his last 5 2/3 innings at Iowa, striking out 12 batters over that span. 

This marks Wick's third stint with the Cubs this season. The hard-throwing right-hander has allowed just one earned runs in 3 2/3 innings with the Cubs this season, striking out six batters. He holds a 2.22 ERA in 28 1/3 innings with Iowa this season, striking out 34 batters compared to eight walks.

The Cubs now have just three bench players available Saturday against the Reds — David Bote, Victor Caratini and Daniel Descalso. 

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Amid rough patch, Cubs shake up their bullpen

Amid rough patch, Cubs shake up their bullpen

The Cubs bullpen has been under the microscope recently as they've hit another rough patch.

With Pedro Strop on the injured list, Cubs relievers have combined for a 5.04 ERA and 1.72 WHIP over the last week, allowing 32 hits and 11 walks against only 15 strikeouts in 25 innings.

The Cubs are shaking things up, sending veteran left-hander Xavier Cedeno to the injured list with left wrist inflammation and promoting right-hander Rowan Wick from Triple-A Iowa.

"We had to get things straightened out out there," Joe Maddon said of the bullpen. "Cedeno's still not 100 percent right, so we made that move. Wick's up and he's been pitching really well. We liked him in spring training; he provides length if we need it also, so there were a lot of reasons to do it, but he was pitching well enough to be here, too."

The Cubs acquired Wick, 26, from the Padres back in November for minor leaguer Jason Vosler. Wick has pitched well in Triple-A Iowa this season — in 13 outings, he has a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while striking out 25 batters in 19 innings. 

Of his 13 appearances, 7 have been of a multi-inning variety and he hasn't allowed a run in his last 3 games (6.2 innings). He said a key to his success has been the ability to throw three different pitches for strikes and has been in a good flow lately of getting ahead in the count.

Wick made 10 appearances for the Padres in San Diego last year, sporting a 6.48 ERA in 8.1 innings.  The results weren't what he wanted in the big leagues, but that experience is something he can rely  on now.

"[I learned] that I can pitch here and that I belong," Wick said. "To be comfortable and hopefully pitch well."

Cedeno, 32, signed with the Cubs just before spring training started, but has been hampered by the same wrist issue all spring. He was first activated off the injured list less than two weeks ago and did not give up a run in 5 appearances, though he surrendered 4 hits and 3 walks in just 2 total innings of work.

With Wick in tow, the Cubs bullpen now looks like this:

Steve Cishek
Brad Brach
Brandon Kintzler
Kyle Ryan
Mike Montgomery
Tyler Chatwood
Carl Edwards Jr.
Rowan Wick

Strop is working his way back from a hamstring injury and threw a 25-pitch bullpen Monday, so his return may not be far off. 

Brandon Morrow resumed his throwing program Monday, as well, but is still weeks away from returning even in a best-case scenario.

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