Big surprise, another member of the Cubs bullpen is headed to the IL. The team announced Saturday that righty Steve Cishek was being shelved with left hip inflammation, which may or may not be related to a recent bout of FIP inflammation. The 33-year-old has made a team-leading 54 appearances this season, putting him on pace for a whopping 75 appearances.
That total would mark a career high were it not for last season, when Joe Maddon called upon him to pitch in 80 games. I don’t care how rubbery a dude’s arm is, throwing that often at that stage of your career can’t be easy. The heavy usage is concerning in and off itself, but Cishek has had hip issues in the past, missing big chunks of 2016 and ’17 due to a torn left labrum.
The trouble is very likely caused by the way the sidewinder lands coming out of his funky delivery, though there isn’t a great deal of direct data supporting that theory. Regardless of whether and to what degree that is true (and it probably is to a great degree), the recurrence of a past injury isn’t a good sign for a guy who’s getting on in age. Let’s hope this is indeed entirely precautionary and that a little rest will clear things up.
In order to fill Cishek’s spot, the Cubs have recalled righty Dillon Maples from Triple-A Iowa. No stranger to the big club, Maples has battled both mentally and physically over the past few seasons as he tries to harness his incredible stuff. Capable of striking fear into even the most seasoned MLB hitters, Maples can also fall apart and walk every batter he faces.
To wit, he’s walked four batters two separate times in the last 10 games, neither of which saw him record more than one out. He’s also struck out four men twice and has recorded five or more outs in five of his last six appearances.
In other bullpen news, Craig Kimbrel will be meeting the team in Philly, where he’s expected to throw a bullpen session as he works back from a knee issue. Brandon Kintzler is throwing Saturday to test out the balky pec that landed him on the IL, so it appears as though he’ll be activated after a minimum stay. Kyle Ryan will also join the team in Philly as he returns from the bereavement list.
More bullpen updates:
• Kimbrel (10-day IL) meeting team in Philadelphia, where it’s possible he’ll throw a bullpen session.
• Kintzler (10-day IL) throwing bullpen today.
• Ryan (bereavement list) will meet team in Philly as well.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 10, 2019
It’s not at all uncommon for injuries to crop up as the season wears on, but the Cubs are now without three of their most reliable late-inning arms at a time when they could really use some wins. And while the updates are promising, it’s tough for me to shake a bad feeling about Cishek because of his motion and his earlier hip issues.
Maybe the offense can pull on their respective pairs of big boy pants over the next few games and just eliminate any high-leverage situations. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.