pierce johnson cubsIf today’s MRI turns out badly, Pedro Strop could be out for longer than we care to think about. The Cubs have the bullpen depth to handle that, but tapping into bullpen depth can start a chain reaction. Each guy who moves into a new role leaves a void behind him that needs to be filled somehow. That can result in pitchers working a little more than the Cubs would like, and that can result in pitchers perhaps not being as rested as the Cubs would like when the playoffs roll around. And that is where Iowa comes in.

There are options in Iowa, and options beyond the likely return of Justin Grimm. These guys probably can’t replace Strop’s performance, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help out.

Given the Cubs’ 25-man roster crunch they may prefer to make it into September with what they have and then call up plenty of spare arms to help rest the regular pen for October. Iowa has the depth to back that plan.

Pierce Johnson is one option. He has been pitching pretty well in relief and could easily take over as a multi-inning guy in low leverage situations. Armando Rivero has allowed a grand total of three earned runs over 29.2 innings since the first of June and is generally pitching as well or better as he’s ever pitched in his career. As a right handed middle innings option, the Cubs could do a lot worse. Spencer Patton could also fill that role; he hasn’t allowed an earned run against minor league right handed hitting this season (18.1 IP). Corey Black has been pitching well of late, and he has harnessed his mid-90s stuff enough to account for just two hits allowed in his last four games. Felix Pena has also been pitching very well lately, and like Johnson could handle multi-inning roles if there was a need.



In short, even if Strop is out for awhile, and even if the Cubs have to lean a little harder on some of their other relievers to get into September, once the rosters expand they have the ability to significantly reinforce the bullpen and eat enough innings to make sure that the playoff relief crew will be as rested as they need to be. It may take some creative rostering to get all these options on the 40-man, but some of them are on the 40-man already, and those alone may be enough.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Oklahoma City 7, Iowa 0
The Cubs had some chances in this one, but never managed a run.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies

Tennessee had the day off.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Salem 2, Myrtle Beach 1 in ten innings.
The Pelicans’ winning streak snapped at ten.

Low A: South Bend Cubs

The Cubs had the day off.



Short Season A: Eugene Emeralds
Eugene 12, Salem-Keizer 4
The Emeralds put up a crooked number in the third, four, fifth, and sixth.

Rookie: Arizona Cubs
Padres 10, Cubs 8
Thanks to seven walks, the Cubs scored all their runs on just six hits. Thanks to five errors, they lost anyway.

Other Notes

  • I did not list Trevor Cahill as a bullpen reinforcement from Iowa largely because he is already accounted for. He’ll likely be up next week to take one start in a doubleheader, and after that we’ll see where the Cubs go with him. Assuming he pitches a fairly normal spot-start (five or six innings), he wouldn’t be available to work in relief again until next weekend. By then we would be just ten days or so away from September first and the arrival of reinforcements anyway. Cahill’s ability to help bridge any gap over the next two weeks is probably fairly limited.
  • And now that you are worrying about pitching injuries and bullpen woes, how about a nice Jeffrey Baez home run down the right field line to brighten your day:

  • And a nice catch by Munenori Kawasaki to rob a hit:




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