Cubs Roster Moves: Hoerner to the IL, Assad to Iowa, Mastrobuoni and Hughes Arrive
There was initially hope that Nico Hoerner could avoid a stay on the Injured List, despite having suffered a mild hamstring strain. That just about never happens, but the Cubs didn’t initially put Hoerner on the IL and he was reportedly doing some baseball work before yesterday’s off-day. So some hope was understandable.
But today the Cubs did what was always more likely from the outset, and that’s placing Hoerner on the 10-day IL, backdated to May 9, with a strained left hamstring. Hopefully it’ll be a minimum stay, and Hoerner can return in a week.
In the meantime, the playing time question for Christopher Morel will remain a non-question. When Hoerner is out, Morel should be playing every single day, as he has so far. And, hey, if he wants to fill in as the leadoff hitter, too, I wouldn’t complain.
The Cubs also optioned righty Javier Assad to Triple-A Iowa, as was expected after his last long relief outing. He figures to resume starting in the Iowa rotation from here, and he’ll be in that depth starter mix (or bullpen mix if the Cubs wind up in a place where they need a guy on the 40-man roster, and Assad is the best fit – it’s very valuable that he can seemingly bounce among the roles).
Taking Hoerner’s and Assad’s spots on the roster, the Cubs are bringing up Miles Mastrobuoni from Iowa, and are activating Brandon Hughes (knee inflammation) from the 15-day Injured List.
You are familiar with Mastrobuoni from his earlier stint with the big league Cubs – it was laden with both a whole lot of bad luck and a whole lot of strikeouts. In short, when he made contact, Mastrobuoni was really ripping the ball, but he wasn’t getting anything to fall in. And unfortunately, when he wasn’t making contact, he was striking out at a 30% clip. Then again, the whole thing was just 20 plate appearances, so I will generally favor the hard contact over everything else. At Iowa, the 27-year-old has been having his best minor league season yet, hitting .291/.494/.455/157 wRC+. The BABIP is over .400 and the walk rate is nearly 30(!)%, so I don’t quite know how much stock to put in the results, though the strikeouts have been down closer to 20%. For now, he’s a versatile defender who has a lefty bat, and figures to be among the options off the bench. I would not expect him to draw too many starts.
As for Hughes, 27, you just hope the knee hasn’t impacted his mechanics, because boy did he look good when he was healthy enough to go. He gives the Cubs a lefty option in the bullpen, yes, but he’s mostly just a straight up really good reliever, regardless of match-up. Over his 5.2 innings so far this year, Hughes has allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, while striking out 9.