Cubs Injury Updates and the Coming Roster Crunch: Bullpen, Miley, Mills, Simmons, Frazier, More

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Cubs Injury Updates and the Coming Roster Crunch: Bullpen, Miley, Mills, Simmons, Frazier, More

Chicago Cubs

One week from today, teams will have to reduce their active rosters from 28 players to 26, with a maximum of 13 pitchers on staff. The expanded rosters were an allowance afforded because of the lockout-induced short Spring Training, and things go back to normal on Monday, May 2.

For the Cubs, if there aren’t changes before then, that’ll mean two pitchers have to be moved off the active roster. Currently, there are 15 pitchers and 13 position players on the roster, and, again, you’re permitted a maximum of 13 pitchers in the new system. With just eight arms in the bullpen, the Cubs – and so many other teams – will have to carry fewer relievers than they used to (even going back to the days of the 25-man roster, you’d sometimes see the Cubs carrying 14 pitchers and just 3 players on the bench … it was nuts).

So, for the Cubs, you’re most likely looking at guys with options remaining, which would mean relievers like Ethan Roberts and Michael Rucker might head to Iowa next week. Of course, the Cubs also have a couple pitchers soon returning from injury, which will further squeeze things (though one of the starting pitchers will be a one-to-one replacement for Mark Leiter Jr.).

Speaking of those injuries …

Alec Mills (lower back) made a rehab start at Triple-A Iowa this weekend, the results of which are of less interest than him being stretched out to 62 pitches:

Pretty good bet that Mills will take Leiter’s next turn in the rotation if Mills came out of that last start feeling OK.

Meanwhile, Wade Miley (elbow) is getting very close to a rehab start of his own. After a 50-pitch bullpen session this weekend, he’s set to throw live BP on Wednesday. If that goes well, you could see him making a rehab start (likely Iowa or South Bend, for geographic reasons) this weekend or early next week. It’s possible that’d be his only rehab start, and then he would be slotted back into the rotation the next turn through (at which point the Cubs would have to figure out whether to go with a six-man rotation, whether to move Justin Steele or Alec Mills into the bullpen, or option Steele to Iowa to keep starting).

On the positional side, there’s still not much to report on Andrelton Simmons (shoulder, finger) who is doing work in Arizona, periodically appearing in extended Spring Training games there, but not really being described with a timeline. Cubs.com has David Ross saying he doesn’t think Simmons was far away back on April 15, which, well, that was 10 days ago and Simmons is still not yet on a rehab assignment. So either something happened in the interim, or Ross and I have different definitions of not that far away.

With Nico Hoerner fully grabbing control of the starting shortstop position, Simmons will come to the Cubs as something more like a pure back-up. But that’s still a pretty necessary role, as we’ve seen how the current back-up, Jonathan Villar, is faring on defense on the left side. I’m hoping Simmons is healthy soon.

Clint Frazier (apendicitis) apparently texted Ross this weekend to say he was already “ready to rake,” but I would assume the rest and recuperation will take a little more time before we see him running, fielding, taking batting practice, and generally lining himself up for a rehab stint.



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.