Wow, this is a relatively implication-laden move, and I’m pretty excited about it.
Per multiple reports, one of the Cubs’ top upper level pitching prospects, Jen-Ho Tseng, who was today also named the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year (his second time winning the award (2014)), is coming up to start for the big league team tomorrow.
Tseng, 22, broke back out this year in a big way between AA and AAA, and was going to have to be put on the 40-man roster in any case this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. So, as Luke and I have noted for a little while now, *if* a Cubs pitching prospect was going to get a start, it was going to be Tseng.
But I have to confess, I’m still a bit surprised this is happening right now as the Cubs battle for a division title.
As near as I can figure, here’s the rationale: the move will push Mike Montgomery back into the bullpen, where he has been very effective and is probably even more needed at this point. In fact, he may wind up relieving Tseng early-ish in the game tomorrow to create a nice piggyback situation and a tough matchup for the Mets. If not, then Montgomery is available through the weekend for the big series against the Cardinals.
I think I like this. I think. But I have to think a little more.
Meanwhile, Tseng taking a start now could line the Cubs up to replace him in the rotation next time through with a returned Jake Arrieta. To be clear, I’m just spitballing on the timing, but it would line up with the hoped return timeline for Arrieta, whose been out a little over a week with a mild hamstring strain.
To make room for Tseng on the 40-man roster, Pierce Johnson was designated for assignment. More on that decision later.