With the Chicago starting pitchers failing to go deep into games lately, the bullpen has been a bit taxed. To that end, the Cubs reached into AAA Iowa to pull up an arm to provide some relief (get it!?), and called up righty Mitch Atkins.

To make room on the roster, left-hander James Russell was optioned to Iowa. Russell was 0-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 20 relief appearances.

Atkins was 4-2 with one save in 14 games (six starts) for Iowa, striking out 33 in 48 innings. He had been used as a starter in his last six games, and last pitched June 5 against New Orleans. In that game, he gave up one run on three hits in six innings.

“We need a pitcher in here with a fresh arm,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Saturday. cubs.com.

Interesting that Jeff Samardzija did not get the call – he’s got a 2.16 ERA for Iowa right now. But he just started for Iowa on Friday, so maybe the Cubs felt he couldn’t provide immediate depth.

Atkins, 24, appeared twice for the Cubs last year, and has a 2.62 ERA at Iowa this year, with a razor-thin 1.062 WHIP.



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