The Cubs announced a series of roster moves Tuesday, placing righty Jake Arrieta, infielder Nico Hoerner and reliever Dan Winkler on the 10-day injured list. Arrieta is dealing with a right thumb abrasion, while Hoerner has a left forearm strain and Winkler is being slowed by tendinitis in his right triceps. In their absence, the Cubs have recalled lefty Kyle Ryan and right-hander Keegan Thompson. They’ve also selected the contract of infielder Ildemaro Vargas, filling their 40-man roster.
Arrieta, 35, has had a decent rebound effort with the Cubs thus far, making six starts and logging a 4.31 ERA through 31 1/3 frames out of the rotation. He signed a one-year, $6.5MM deal to return to the team with which he won a Cy Young Award in 2015 and a World Series ring in 2016. He’d been slated to take the mound tomorrow, but it appears the cut on his pitching thumb hasn’t healed to the point where he’s able to properly throw all of his offerings. Given the nature of the injury, it seems likely to be a short-term stay on the IL.
The 23-year-old is out to a brilliant start in 2021, slashing .389/.500/.556 with six doubles, three steals and eight walks against seven strikeouts through 44 trips to the plate. Hoerner collided with center fielder Ian Happ when chasing down a shallow fly-ball during Sunday’s game against the Reds, though it’s not clear if that play is the source of his current injury. Happ remains day-to-day after that incident, with manager David Ross telling reporters he’s been diagnosed with a rib contusion after getting kicked “pretty hard” by Hoerner in the process. Hoerner tells reporters he expects to be back from the IL when he’s first eligible (Twitter link via Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago).
Winkler, meanwhile, has held opponents to just one run on five hits in 10 1/3 innings. It’s a strong start in terms of bottom-line results, but the fact that he’s walked seven batters, plunked another and snapped off a wild pitch suggest that he’ll need to improve his control if he’s to maintain anything close to that output. To his credit, Winkler has also punched out a dozen of the 44 hitters he’s faced, but this marks a second straight year of questionable command in the Cubs’ bullpen for the 31-year-old Illinois native.
Ryan leads Cubs relievers in innings pitched over the past few seasons and will give Ross another lefty to work with for the time being. Thompson, who made his MLB debut when he tossed an inning earlier this year, is slated to start the second game of today’s twin bill against the Dodgers. He’s a 26-year-old back-of-the-rotation/swingman candidate who ranks 14th among Cubs farmhands at MLB.com, 23rd at FanGraphs and 28th at Baseball America. The Cubs’ rotation doesn’t have room for him when it’s at full strength, but he’ll likely be called upon for multiple spot starts in situations just as this throughout the year, when injuries pop up among the team’s top few starters.
Vargas has appeared in eight games with the Cubs dating back to a 2020 waiver claim from the Twins. He’s spent the bulk of his career with the D-backs, primarily in a utility role, and is a lifetime .252/.280/.388 hitter in 300 trips to the plate as a big leaguer. He’ll factor into the mix at second base and off the bench while Hoerner is sidelined.