It’s been kind of a quiet 40-man issue since the start of the season: the Cubs had a freebie spot because pitcher Tyson Miller had been on the COVID-related IL. While on that list, his 40-man roster spot was not counted, which means the Cubs had one extra spot to maneuver at the margins of the roster.
But that couldn’t last forever, because – thankfully! – Miller was going to get well eventually, and thus the Cubs would have to make a move like they did today:
RHP Tyson Miller has been reinstated from the COVID-19 IL.
Miller is assigned to Triple-A Iowa but will remain in Arizona for now and continue to build up.
To make room on the 40-man, C Austin Romine has been transferred to the 60-day IL. #Cubs
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 5, 2021
On the plus side, the Cubs didn’t have to lose anyone from the organization in order to activate Miller, but on the down side, transferring Romine to the 60-day IL means that his wrist injury is rather bad. He won’t be eligible to return now until the end of June. So, hey, Tony Wolters is gonna get plenty of run with the Cubs in the meantime.
As for Miller, 25, he was going to be one of the Cubs’ depth starters at the alt site/Iowa in the early going until the COVID thing happened, and now he’s a little behind schedule. Eventually, he’ll join the Triple-A rotation, where he got a taste in 2019. Bryan ranked Miller the 30th best prospect in the system before the season, with these words on the 2016 4th rounder:
Skill set: Pitches above stuff due to deception achieved via unique blend of delivery, approach angle, and extension. Generally executes and commands a five-pitch mix at an above-average level. Four-seam fastball has above-average cutting movement. Changeup took a step forward in 2020, even becoming his preferred secondary.
Developmental focus: Getting the slider to be a true strikeout pitch. Needs a two-strike weapon, and the slider is the pitch with the best potential.
Big League Projection: When Miller’s velocity slipped a bit in 2019, I was worried he might be pigeonholed into a back-of-rotation starter or bust scenario. However, an increase in velo in 2020, and the advanced numbers he showed in terms of his approach angle give me confidence that Miller has two paths worth trying. I suspect we see him tried in both in MLB in 2021.