First, the bad news: Justin Ruggiano’s hamstring injury is not insignificant. It’s a grade two strain, which will have him out at least three to four weeks, and that’s a pretty optimistic timetable given the recent history of hamstring injuries in baseball. Guys simply don’t seem to come back from even mild strains within a few weeks anymore. Ruggiano could be back in June, which could still provide some time to develop trade value, but I wouldn’t bank on it (not that you were banking on it already).
Now, the interesting news: in Ruggiano’s place, the Cubs are calling up a pair of relievers, not position players. To accommodate the multiple arms coming up, the Cubs are sending Blake Parker back to AAA Iowa.
The relievers: righty Neil Ramirez and lefty Zac Rosscup.
That’s a 13-man pitching staff for those counting at home, which is atypically large I don’t think we’ll see it last too long, but, as I said this morning, Emilio Bonifacio’s versatility allows the Cubs to go with four “outfielders,” rather than five. It’s possible the Cubs will carry 13 pitchers all the way through the next turn in the rotation so that, when Carlos Villanueva makes his last start (before Jake Arrieta returns) and then heads to the bullpen, the Cubs won’t be pitching with a “short” bullpen.
But that’s still more than a week away. Would the Cubs really carry 13 pitchers for that long? And then after Arrieta does return, which two pitchers get moved out?
As for the relievers, both are possible long-term pieces in the Cubs’ pen. Ramirez, 24, has been a strikeout machine at AAA this year (14.1 K/9), and there has always been a belief that he could be a fantastic reliever if his starting days were over (as with Justin Grimm, that remains to be seen, long-term). Ramirez, you’ll recall, was acquired with Grimm (and C.J. Edwards and Mike Olt) in last year’s Matt Garza trade. He looked fantastic in Spring Training, for what that’s worth.
Rosscup, 25, has likewise been a strikeout machine in the minors, even as he’s battled control issues. He’s got a future in the bigs, at a minimum, as a situational lefty, so it’ll be interesting to see him now.
There are jobs still to be won in this bullpen, so it’s nice to see guys like Ramirez and Rosscup getting a shot.
Each pitcher was already on the 40-man roster, so there are no implications there.