Tomorrow the Chicago Cubs will call up Dan Straily to start against the New York Mets in order to give Rick Renteria‘s starters an extra day of rest with their lengthy run of 21 games in a row without an off day. Before you get your hopes up, this is expected to only be one start, and he will be optioned back to the minors after the game. He will not be replacing Edwin Jackson in the rotation. The timing of the announcement of Straily’s promotion is just coincidental. Of course, Arismendy Alcantara‘s promotion was only supposed to be for two days, and look at how that turned out. Darwin Barney was designated for assignment a few days later. However, there is a big difference between $2 Million over the rest of this year and $22 Million over the next two years. Could Jackson be sent packing if Straily has a good game? Of course, but I cannot see that as a realistic option.
Before that even has a chance of happening, the Cubs will need to make a roster move to make room for him on the 25 man roster. Since Jackson is highly unlikely to be designated for assignment before the game (of course I would happily dance in the streets if he was and gladly admit to being wrong) someone else has to go. Since this is supposed to be only for one start, I think you can forget about Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada, Travis Wood or Jake Arrieta being sent out. Even if they were optioned to the minors, they would not be able to be recalled for their next start. That leaves a bench player or a reliever.
If they were to send out a bench player, in my opinion they would have to chose either Junior Lake or Chris Valaika as they are the only two options that would make sense. However, that would leave the bench incredibly short, even if this is only for one game. That leaves a bullpen pitcher would make the most sense, but choosing who to send out would not be easy.
I am not sure any of them would make sense, some cannot even be sent down. Villanueva, Fujikawa and Turner would have to be designated for assignment, Wright is the team’s only left hander in the pen, Ramirez just got back from the disabled list, Rondon is the team’s closer, Grimm and Strop have pitched too well to get rid of.
I am glad that I am not the one that has to make this decision, but if I were the one who had to make this, I think that I would send Lake out. He has not played much these past two months, and when he has, he has disappointed. This would mean the Cubs have a very short bench though. They would have two back up outfielders, a back up infielder and a backup catcher.
This would immediately be resolved after the game when the Cubs sent Straily back to the minors and recalled an outfielder, or another player. With the trade of Brett Jackson the Cubs have an empty 40 man roster spot, so they could call up anyone they want within the organization. They could even call up Kris Bryant if they wanted to, though that is almost as unlikely as a designation of Jackson for assignment as Theo Epstein has said there is not chance that he gets called up at all this year, but stranger things have happened.
That being said, they likely stick to someone who is already on the 40 man roster, which could be either Matt Szczur, Mike Olt or Jorge Soler. There are rumors that Soler is likely to be recalled in September after the Iowa Cubs playoff run is over, but they could just as easily call him up after Saturday’s game and keep him up for the stretch run. If the rumors are true though, that they want to wait until after the playoffs you are likely to either Szczur or Olt.
While Olt failed miserably in his first chance in the majors, in his 23 games in the minors, he has been on fire. Perhaps the Cubs feel that with his time in the minors he was able to rebuild his confidence and will have better luck from here on out in the majors. That would also give the Cubs another backup infielder, instead of just relying on Valaika.
That being said, is 23 games (by then would be 25) enough of a sample size to make you believe he figured something out and will be fine? For me, I am not sure that is enough, I would love to see him get another crack at the majors, but I think he will have to wait until September just like Soler. That leaves Szczur as the most likely player to be called up after Saturday’s game.
Of course, maybe Theo and Jed will surprise me and make all Cub fans happy by just sending Jackson packing. Guess we will have to wait until at least after the game tonight to find out who is coming, and who is going.