We knew there was SOMETHING happening tonight, given that Frank Schwindel was immediately returning to the Cubs never having actually played a game at Iowa (where he was sent to work on some things), and it is indeed a flurry of moves.
Per reports, you’ve got Schwindel coming back, closer David Robertson going on the Injured List without a designation (i.e., it pretty much has to be the COVID IL, like Marcus Stroman), righty swing man Adrian Sampson sent back to Iowa, and lefty Conner Menez called up. Menez was not on the 40-man, so he requires a 40-man spot, but that can come via Robertson – players on the COVID IL do not count against the 40-man roster. (So whenever Robertson or Stroman are ready to return, a player might have to get DFA’d. Early heads up on that.)
And when you have two COVID cases on the team, you tentatively anticipate more, thus the Cubs also have several players with them on a taxi squad: RHP Mark Leiter Jr., IF Ildemaro Vargas, C P.J. Higgins.
That more or less answers why you would bring back Schwindel immediately rather than let him go to Iowa and bring someone else up: there are no other big-league ready guys on the 40-man roster, and the Cubs didn’t know, as of this morning, just how bad their COVID outbreak was. It could get worse with every next set of testing, so they clearly wanted to make sure they had Schwindel around. The situation … sucks.
The Cubs are now without one of their few reliable starting pitchers, their exceptional closer, and they are already playing through a brutal stretch of games and results.
Now we wait for any other shoes to drop.
As for the new guy, Conner Menez, you may remember that he was the minor league Rule 5 pick back in December, who was the rare minor league phase guy who already had some big league experience. The 26-year-old lefty has been pitching extremely well at Iowa, posting a 2.16 ERA over 16.2 innings (27.9% K rate, 10.3% BB rate).