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neil ramirez cubsNeil Ramirez has struggled mightily of late, so the Chicago Cubs are demoting him to AAA Iowa.

Nah. That’d be pretty weird, wouldn’t it?

Ramirez has actually been one of the best relievers in baseball this year, and he’s been fantastic all season long. But the Cubs are sending him down to AAA Iowa today, not because of his performance, but just so that he can get a breather. Remember, the Cubs have been inclined to take it easy with Ramirez (who had shoulder issues last year) this year, and after heavy work in the first half, it makes sense to give him a respite at AAA. Plus, the Cubs’ bullpen is pretty worn down and could use a fresh arm.

Let’s put it this way: when the team’s best reliever is sent to AAA Iowa, there’s probably a good reason.

In Ramirez’s place, Blake Parker is back up to get another shot to look like the guy he’s been at AAA (and was in the bigs last year).

As for Ramirez, through 28 big league innings, the Cubs’ top setup man clocks in at a 0.96 ERA and a 32.7% K rate (9.1% walk rate). There has been talk all year about him possibly converting back into a starter next year now that he’s shown he can get big league hitters out, and has shown that he’s healthy. Could this be the start of that process? Or would that be an entirely offseason kind of thing?

I guess we’ll see. For now, we’ll just call it a well-deserved breather, and help for a very taxed bullpen.

UPDATE: A bit more …

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