In a relatively surprising development out of Chicago, the Cubs will option Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A Iowa, per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter). Mike Montgomery, meanwhile, has been put on the injured list with a left lat strain, per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers (via Twitter), who also announced the Edwards Jr. move on ESPN 1000 this morning, and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link). Bastian was among those to report that the club has promoted lefty Kyle Ryan and selected Allen Webster from AAA Iowa. Righty Jen-Ho Tseng was designated for assignment to make room for Webster on the 40-man.
Edwards’ decline, while not wholly out of character, took a sudden downturn this season after he had entrenched himself as a key piece of Joe Maddon’s bullpen since 2016. Edwards Jr. no doubt has wipeout stuff, but he has long struggled with loss of command in stretches, never more clearly than in the early stages of this season. In four appearances spanning just 1 2/3 innings, Edwards has surrendered 6 earned runs, 2 home runs and 5 walks (32.40 ERA). Still, the move must come as somewhat of a shock to the system for the “Stringbean Slinger,” who has averaged 66 appearances per season over the last two seasons with a 2.81 ERA and 12.2 K/9 to 5.3 BB/9.
With the Cubs losing six in a row after a win on Opening Day, changes were clearly in store for the Northsiders. Edwards’ had one option remaining, which could be a consideration here, as the only other pitchers on the staff with options remaining are lefty Randy Rosario (1) and starter Kyle Hendricks (3). Hendricks is clearly going nowhere, while Rosario has been one of the few strike-throwers out of the Cubs’ pen so far this season.
Montgomery, meanwhile, has similarly struggled through the first week of the season, appearing four times with a 16.88 ERA over 2 2/3 innings of work. He has been a key swingman for the Cubs over the last three seasons, appearing in 82 games, 33 of them starts since his acquisition from Seattle in the middle of 2016. As you may recall, Montgomery relieved Edwards Jr. to get the save in the game seven of the Cubs World Series win in Cleveland – his first career save.
Webster, 29, was a former top prospect in the Dodgers and Red Sox organizations, and was a key figure in the blockbuster waiver deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles in August of 2012. He struggled mightily in Boston, with both arsenal and command, and was quickly shipped to Arizona, where the troubles worsened. The former 18th-rounder’s been a reclamation project in the Chicago farm since last Spring, and the club will hope he can suddenly regain his long-ago form.
Ryan, 27, has appeared in 86 big-league games with the Tigers since his debut in 2014, posting a 3.87 ERA/4.29 FIP/4.50 xFIP over 128 innings. He rarely misses a bat, having struck out just 4.92 men per nine since his debut, though is typically adroit at keeping the ball out of the air (54% career ground-ball rate). Ryan’s been much more effective against lefties (3.39 FIP against) than righties (4.76 opponents’ FIP) in his four-year career thus far.
Tseng, a 24-year-old righty who appeared in three games for Chicago over the last two seasons, was hammered in 24 starts for Iowa last season (6.27 ERA/5.13 FIP).