Great news on the bullpen front: Justin Grimm is back.
After just one appearance at extended Spring Training and just one inning at AAA Iowa, the Cubs today activated Grimm from the DL (forearm inflammation), which should be a huge boost to the bullpen. I can only assume that, given how quickly he returned once he was on the mound, the Cubs and Grimm feel very good about his health. That makes me feel good. I’d caution folks not to overreact if he isn’t immediately a miracle savior for the bullpen, but you’ll do that anyway. For now, let’s just enjoy that the pen might be slightly fortified and that Grimm is healthy.
Grimm takes Anthony Varvaro’s place in the bullpen, as the recently claimed reliever was designated for assignment, presumably before being waived, so that the Cubs might try to get him through and stash him at AAA Iowa. It’s possible that was the plan all along, or it’s possible that Grimm’s healthiness accelerated things. In any case, Varvaro was active for just one game, and didn’t appear.
Also back for the Cubs is Matt Szczur, who was just hanging out in St. Louis yesterday. Interestingly, the Cubs do now call up Szczur, but they are staying at 13 pitchers. That’s because Junior Lake is headed back to AAA Iowa. I think Szczur’s superior outfield defense and slightly better speed on the basepaths is probably the tie-breaker between the two players, since neither is likely to be a huge force at the plate (though each does have that hint of what-if upside). I tend to think Szczur is the slightly better overall bench player for the big league team, and I also think it’s good for Lake to keep getting regular starts at Iowa. Szczur probably would have been up sooner, but the wonky timing of the various injuries and bullpen needs threw things off (together with the requirement that an optioned player can’t be recalled for 10 days unless he’s replacing an injured player).
The Cubs made a bunch of roster moves yesterday, too – check that post if you need to keep up with the ever-shifting roster. With Varvaro DFA’d and no one replacing him on the 40-man today, the 40-man stands at 39.