With the Cubs early in a stretch of 16 games in as many days, and with several position players returning to full strength, they made a move to add to the pen. Pierce Johnson, whose trajectory has been stagnated over the last couple years by injury and inconsistent performance, has been recalled.
Jeimer Candelario was sent back to Iowa to make room on the roster and to get him everyday at-bats. Ben Zobrist says he felt good after his recent BP session, which, combined with Jason Heyward’s imminent return, will push Kris Bryant back to third and would have relegated Candy to bench-bat status soon enough.
Back to Johnson, who will wear No. 48 and who has been working in short relief for the I-Cubs after occupying more of the middle last year and starting in four previous campaigns. The 6′ 3″ righty has notched four saves and has a 3.21 ERA over 14 innings (12 appearances), which is pretty not bad. The 1.86 WHIP, though, that doesn’t engender warm fuzzies.
But while he’s allowed 15 hits and 11 walks this season, Johnson has picked up 21 strikeouts. Look for Joe Maddon to use the new guy as a ROOGy, since he’s struck out 13 righties against only three walks. In contrast, he’s walked and struck out eight lefties. Given the increased discipline of major league hitters, this isn’t a guy you really want to test against the likes of Joey Votto.
If nothing else, this move gives Cubs fans a chance to see a guy they’ve been hearing about for several years and it keeps the pipeline from Iowa running.