chris rusin cubsWith a pat on the back and a tip of the cap, the Chicago Cubs optioned lefty Chris Rusin back to AAA Iowa after yesterday’s game. The outing, which served as a glorified start for Rusin, saw him go five innings, allowing one earned run, three hits, and an (intentional) walk. He struck out one.

Rusin was brought up to save the bullpen for a day, and, given how quickly Carlos Villanueva was bounced from the game, that’s exactly what he did. With his mission accomplished, the Cubs will bright up a more traditional one-inning righty reliever, and it’s a guy whom most thought would be in the bullpen to start the year in the first place: Blake Parker.

After a dominant 2013 season, split between AAA and the bigs, Parker figured to be a lock to start the year with the Cubs. An ugly Spring Training (and a pitching glut) later, and Parker was cut from Spring Training and headed for Iowa. Brian Schlitter instead got the final right-handed slot in the bullpen, but he was sent down yesterday to make room for Rusin. A player optioned to the minors cannot be recalled for at least 10 days, except in the case of an injury replacement, so even if the Cubs wanted to bring Schlitter back today, they couldn’t. I’m not so sure they didn’t want to bring back Parker all along, once he was given a brief shot to collect himself at AAA.

And that’s exactly what Parker has done so far: he’s thrown three scoreless innings, allowing three hits, no walks, and striking out five. He’ll come back to the Cubs in something of a middle relief role. He’ll try to establish himself as well as he can before Jake Arrieta returns in the next week or two, bouncing Carlos Villanueva to the pen, and pushing someone out of the pen.

As for Rusin, he’ll return to starting at AAA Iowa, awaiting an injury or a trade to open up a more regular spot in the bigs.

  • MoneyBoy

    He did give up 3 hits and walk one… but Rusin was remarkably efficient with just 55 pitches in his 5 innings. Good for him!! He sure bailed out the pen.

    • JasonP

      I’m not sure why you’re saying 3 hits and 1 walk in 5 innings is a bad thing.

      By all measures that is very good. 0.8 WHIP, 0.211 OBP, .167 BA

  • waittilthisyear

    thank you chris for saving the pen. Blake, show em youre here to stay. frankly, i think he should have been here from the jump (though i don’t have nearly as much hate for Schlitter as some)

  • woody

    I like that move with Parker. He has more dominant stuff than Schlitter. So I am waiting to see which Edwin Jackson shows up today. Hopefully the one that keeps the ball down and has the slider working. The thing about Jackson is that he always seems to have one inning where he loses it and the opposing team puts up a crooked number. We just don’t have the offense to climb back into the game when he gives them three or four runs early.

    • willis

      With the weather, he may not need to show up at all.

      Good move with Parker. The move from yesterday ended up working out (almost like they knew Villanueva would be terrible) and this is the right move today.

  • Funn Dave

    Poor Rusin. His last few years of bouncing between MLB and MiLB have been condensed into the last few days.

  • JasonP

    Rusin has been fairly effective, but he hasn’t shown the ability to go more deep into games, he’s only completed the 6th inning in 5 of his 20 starts and averages 5 innings per start.

    You can only afford to have a guy like that in the rotation after the rosters are expanded.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      I think he’s ultimately going to be the “swing” guy out of the pen. He’s a good long man out of the pen and in an emergency you can use him for a start or two.

      • willis

        If he could emerge as a solid lefty pen option that would be great. And I think that’s the play the cubs should make from here on. The two lefties and in the pen currently are awful. Rosscup is ready and Rusin can fill that role as well. I’m not sure how “difficult” it would be to demote or get rid of Wright and Russell, but Rusin could fill that bullpen void along with Rosscup when/if they do.

  • K0ng

    I’m curious what a cup of coffee is really like for a non-veteran like Rusin. Does he fly back and forth in coach, or does he get an upgraded ticket? Does he get some sort of a check, representing one or two days of major league pay? Does he get some other swag as a result of being on the major league roster, if only for a day or two?

  • cubs2015

    Never been a huge Rusin fan but I would feel much better with him coming out of the pen than Wright in really any situation… I think RR agrees considering Wright hasn’t pitched for lil while. Good to see Parker back up, hopefully he’s around for little while