The Cubs have activated closer Craig Kimbrel from the 10-day injured list, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. He will replace Duane Underwood Jr., who has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, on the active roster.
Kimbrel landed on the injured list with right knee inflammation, which has held him out of action for the Cubs since August 3. Since joining the Cubs, he’s gotten into 14 games with shaky results. He holds a 5.68 ERA, though that mark is certainly volatile, with Kimbrel having tossed just 12 2/3 innings. Notably, 10 of his last 11 appearances have been scoreless, though a number of blowups—largely at the hands of untimely home runs—have inflated his run-prevention numbers.
For the scuffling Cubs, the addition of Kimbrel to the bullpen mix should quell some nerves, especially considering the team’s recent struggles in the late innings. Kimbrel’s Chicago troubles notwithstanding, his extensive track record suggests that he’s a cut above the club’s other late-inning options, which will no doubt come into play as the division race intensifies—with the Cubs no longer pacing the field, for a change.
Underwood, for his part, has flashed some potential as a bullpen piece for the Cubs, having struck out 7 batters in his first 3 1/3 innings of 2019. While that pace is no doubt unsustainable, it may be enough to suggest that Underwood can carve out a role in a Major League bullpen after seven-plus years being groomed as a professional starter.