After yesterday’s marathon win, the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen was in dicey territory. Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, and Mike Montgomery are almost certainly totally unavailable today, and so we were tentatively expecting a temporary roster move today.
Sure enough, the Cubs have optioned Justin Grimm to AAA Iowa so that they can bring up a fresh arm in Felix Pena.
Pena, 27, looked really good in limited doses in September last year with the big league team after dominating at AAA Iowa following a conversion to the bullpen. He has excellent stuff, and when he keeps it in the zone, he can be just as good as any middle reliever the Cubs could add. In fact, had the Cubs’ bullpen not been so full and healthy in the spring, Pena was going to have a very good chance at breaking camp with the big league team. He was always expected to see some time in the Majors this year, and if he looks really good, it’s possible he could be up for longer than just a rest-the-bullpen layover.
Grimm, 28, has mostly terrible numbers so far this year, but that’s largely because of two outings in which he was blown up while playing cleanup duty in games that were otherwise out of hand. In other words, I’m not sure how much his season numbers so far really tells us.
Instead, he’s the one being optioned today because he’s one of only a couple guys in the bullpen who actually has a minor league option available. Grimm will be eligible to return in 10 days, or if there’s an injury in the interim.