Nelson Velazquez is Coming Up to the Big League Cubs (UPDATE: Assad Optioned)
Today in weird roster moves that I very much hope aren’t about an injury issue …
Apparently Nelson Velazquez is joining the big league Cubs today:
Velazquez, 24, was a solid bench option last year in his time with the Cubs, raking against lefties and playing decent defense. At Iowa this year, he’s hit a silly .364/.432/.697/188 wRC+ over his first eight games.
We’ve talked about how the Cubs have been in need of some help defensively in the outfield, and Velazquez is certainly capable in that respect. But with Seiya Suzuki theoretically returning soon, wasn’t that already taken care of? How does it make sense to add them both in the span of a few days? Especially when the whole point of Velazquez not making the big league team initially was so that he could play every day at Iowa. What’s the reasoning here?
… unless someone is hurt? I really hope that’s not the case. But this is a bit strange otherwise. More soon, obviously.
UPDATE: Not an injury, but I definitely couldn’t have predicted this:
Wow. OK. Well, Assad would’ve been unavailable today anyway after yesterday’s long appearance, and you are allowed to go under 13 pitchers if you want (you’re just not allowed to go OVER 13 pitchers). So this is probably a very short-term move, with Velazquez up for a day or two, and then when the Cubs want another pitcher, they’ll swap him out with that pitcher?
Which is to say, the bench gets a little extra depth for now, and the bullpen is not impacted at all. Smart move, presuming you have a pitcher in mind to come up in a day or two (Brandon Hughes returning that fast?). The Suzuki return would then seem to be completely unaffected by today’s move.
As for Assad, I was tentatively thinking he’d be the guy sent out for Hughes later this week or next week, so that he can resume starting at Iowa. The bullpen thing was not a bad idea since he was so geared up from the WBC, and I don’t think he looked terrible, but Assad didn’t really force anyone’s hand in the chances he was given. So might as well stretch him back out as starting depth, especially given how rough Adrian Sampson has performed in his first two outings at Iowa.