The Cubs will be getting pitching reinforcements soon, provided all goes well with a trio of rehab assignments. Dillon Maples has been on the 10-day IL since June 15 with a right triceps strain, but he threw a bullpen in Iowa Friday night and is expected to pitch for the I-Cubs Saturday. Trevor Williams (appendectomy) and Justin Steele (right hamstring) threw bullpens Thursday and are expected in Iowa on Sunday.
Williams hasn’t pitched since May 26 and still needs time to build back up to be able to resume his spot in the starting rotation, should the Cubs still see that as his best fit. The righty has a 5.36 ERA in 10 starts and frequently struggled to work deep into games even before his emergency surgery, so stamina will definitely be a concern.
Steele has been on the shelf even longer, having last appeared on May 20, but the Cubs only need him to be able to get three or four outs at a time. The lefty has a 2.03 ERA and only allowed three earned runs in 11 appearances, all of them coming in one poor outing against the Reds on May 2. With 21 strikeouts to seven walks and just seven hits allowed over 13.1 innings, Steele makes an excellent bullpen even more formidable.
David Bote and Nico Hoerner are also nearing rehab assignments and should be in Iowa by next weekend as long as they’re feeling good after intense workouts on the field in LA on Thursday. Bote (dislocated shoulder) has been out since May 29 and Hoerner (hamstring) hasn’t played since May 25, forcing the Cubs to use Eric Sogard at second base far more often than they’d otherwise have liked.
Getting the two infielders back almost certainly signals the end of Sogard’s time in Chicago, particularly with Patrick Wisdom firmly entrenched as a power bench bat, but we’ve seen how this team loves to hold onto cagey vets. Speaking of which, Matt Duffy‘s balky back has kept him out for over a month now. He was nearing a rehab assignment of his own, but didn’t respond well after a strenuous workout and had to dial things down again.
With the Cubs concluding a June schedule that should be their toughest month of the season and now getting back to full strength, things are looking good for the second half.
Update: Hoerner will begin his rehab assignment in Iowa on Sunday.
Nico Hoerner will begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa tomorrow. #Cubs
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) June 26, 2021