Today the Cubs swapped out Brian Schlitter for Chris Rusin in their bullpen, optioning Schlitter to Iowa and calling up Rusin, who had been starting.
The move, presumably, is mostly about a taxed bullpen (three extra-inning games in the first 10 games will do that), and the need for a long-man. Rusin has always struck me as a potentially interesting lefty reliever long-term, but this is not necessarily that move just yet. Schlitter was the primary goat in Thursday’s painful loss, and hasn’t been overly impressive since he was a surprise addition to the bullpen at the end of Spring Training. He could be back eventually, and I don’t know that you close the door on him just because of a few bad outings.
Bringing up Rusin is also interesting in light of James Russell’s recent struggles and Wesley Wright’s complete absence from the game plan (he hasn’t pitched in a week, despite the taxed pen; there has not been any public indication that he’s hurt, either).
We’ll see how long Rusin sticks around. Carlos Villanueva might not be able to go too deep into the game today, given his early efforts in the pen, so it’s possible this is a short-term move. Schlitter can’t come back for 10 days, but someone else could be brought up to replace Rusin if they don’t want to keep him in the pen.