First, let us set up the BIG news of the day:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 6, 2017
Anderson came out of the game because of low back tightness. He's being evaluated. #Cubs
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 7, 2017
This is a bit of a surprise given that the Chicago Cubs had tried like crazy to keep Matt Szczur on the roster, even going so far as to option Tommy La Stella to Iowa when the club went to eight relievers. Unfortunately, because of the slow start from many of the rotation pitchers that trickled down to stretching out the bullpen, the Cubs needed another reliever, and the casualty this time was Matt Szczur. In a way, the Cubs were being prescient in bringing up Rob Zastryzny, as the starter on Saturday was Brett Anderson, who has a history of injuries and has also been inconsistent in his starts this season. As if on cue…
Félix Peña enters to pitch in the 1st after Brett Anderson exits with the athletic trainer.#Cubs trail 5-0.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 6, 2017
Now, I’m just a regular human fan of the Cubs, and I admit to having a knee jerk reaction to Anderson’s very bad start. I was, however, exasperated and sympathetic to his exit, as I guess most of us were counting the days until he would suffer an actual injury that would get him on the disabled list. I also concede that I don’t know whether Anderson’s ineffectiveness is because of decline or if he was nursing or hiding an injury that just couldn’t be ignored anymore before his exit.
The fact is that Anderson was in enough distress that they had to take him out of the game, and we may have to see if the Cubs make a DL move and bring back Tommy La Stella, who is the most obvious call up option at this point. The Cubs cannot go with nine relievers forever, so even if they did want to keep Anderson off the DL, they will need to bring up a position player because of the short bench, especially if Jason Heyward‘s finger injury is more serious than they let on.
The side benefit (if there is any) of Anderson’s early exit is that we get an extended look at Felix Pena and Zastryzny, who will likely stay up now that Saturday’s game became another bullpen day with Mike Montgomery unavailable. If Anderson is injured, then Montgomery becomes the most obvious fifth starter option, although he’s had a heck of a time wiggling out of self-created jams in his long relief appearances. That allows both Pena and Zastryzny to remain in the bullpen, and since both of them have already burned their option, they would be the most logical part of the miniature taxi squad that gets shuttled back to Iowa if the Cubs elect to bring back Justin Grimm. We actually explored this in the recent Dreamcast, although we didn’t think Anderson could potentially get injured.
As for Szczur, because of the new CBA, there are now only seven days for the Cubs to try to trade him before they have to pass him through waivers, where he’s likely claimed by one of many teams in need of another outfielder. My guess is that the Cubs picked this path because they might have a trade lined up, and we will find out within a week.
Getting back to Anderson, a disabled list stint could allow the Cubs to hide him in Iowa to ensure he is healthy and to get his effectiveness back, because he has been good when he’s healthy. The problem is that he’s almost never healthy these days. We hope for the best for him, but right now, having Anderson on the roster seems more of a detriment than anything. So we will expect some kind of announcement after the game or before Sunday night’s contest.
UPDATE 9:55 PM: Yup, pretty much expected…
Joe Maddon says Brett Anderson (back) will probably go on DL with Mike Montgomery or Eddie Butler as options to move into #Cubs rotation.
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) May 7, 2017
Eddie Butler pitched Saturday night and had himself a good game. With Szczur DFA, there is a spot open on the roster to add him if necessary. I do think Montgomery gets first crack, as he’s thrown quite a few innings in his past two outings, but we shall see.
UPDATE 5/7 8:20 AM: I forgot that a guy could just be re-added to the roster after a DFA if it is done within the 7-day window. Conceivably, Szczur could just be brought back to the active roster, so that could be another thing to look for.