Cubs Roster Move: Tommy Nance Sent Back Down to Iowa

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Cubs Roster Move: Tommy Nance Sent Back Down to Iowa

Chicago Cubs

There is an off-day today, so no need yet for a corresponding move, but the Cubs weren’t going to wait on optioning reliever Tommy Nance down, since they knew it was coming regardless.

Nance, 30, was already being sent down to Triple-A Iowa earlier this week when the Cubs had a last-minute need for an injury replacement for Ryan Tepera. He tried to fill in and eat some innings yesterday, but unlike his performance in that Dodgers game, this time around he got waxed.

Unfortunately, the story on Nance has become very clear: before he gave up his first run in that disconcerting appearance against the Mets in New York a few weeks ago, Nance featured elite spin rates, crazy movement, late life, and looked unhittable. Since then, which corresponded with the league announcing that sticky stuff checks were coming, and corresponded with significant drops in his spin rate, Nance has 10.0 innings, allowing 12 ER on 11 hits (3 homers), 4 walks, 2 hit batters, and 4 wild pitches. His strikeout rate went from 31.7% to just 21.3%. Remember: the point of mentioning the chronology and spin rates is not to be accusatory – we now have a much better understanding of the culture that contributed to how pitchers behaved. Instead, the point is the context it provides as we think about possible future performance. The season numbers, right now, don’t really tell you the whole story.

There is reason to be hopeful that there’s still a big league contributor there once he gets his feet back under him in the new environment (and adjusts to league adjustments – that was no doubt a factor, too). But outside of eating innings in blowouts, there isn’t a place for him in the big league bullpen right now. Hopefully he works on his grips and his pitch mix, takes advantage of his strengths (still has a good natural spin rate, great velocity, good movement on the curveball), and gets back into a good place.

In the meantime, we could try to guess who comes up to take his place tomorrow, but it’s uncertain. It’s plausible that Justin Steele’s rehab assignment could end and he could come back (though I thought the Cubs were hoping to stretch him out a bit, and he’s thrown only two one-inning appearances at Iowa). It’s plausible the Cubs could replace Nance, for now, with a position player (like Nico Hoerner returning?) since they are playing shorthanded with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant dinged up (though why not just IL one of those guys at that point if Hoerner is returning?). What’s most likely is a simple swap, with one of Kyle Ryan or Cory Abbott coming back up (they are eligible tomorrow).

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.