Cubs reliever Codi Heuer underwent Tommy John surgery recently, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago. Heuer himself revealed that he’d undergone what looked to be a major arm procedure on Instagram earlier today. He’ll now be sidelined for the 2022 season.
Because Heuer is on the 40-man roster, he’s been restricted from working out with the Cubs or speaking to the team’s medical staff. As such, the injury occurred at a workout that was not supervised by the team and, presumably, the surgery was recommended by third-party medical experts as well. He’ll begin the rehab process without the assistance of the Cubs’ medical staff, though he’ll obviously be able to work with team doctors and trainers once the lockout is finally lifted.
Heuer, 25, was acquired from the White Sox alongside Nick Madrigal in the crosstown July trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the South Side. The 2018 sixth-round pick had a dominant debut campaign in 2020, pitching to a 1.52 ERA with a 27.2% strikeout rate, a 9.8% walk rate and a 50% grounder rate in 23 2/3 innings of relief. His results slipped in 2021, however, as he slumped to an ERA north of 5.00 in his first 38 2/3 innings prior to that trade. Heuer’s struggles perhaps contributed to the ChiSox’ desire to acquire Kimbrel — a move that ultimately proved regrettable from the White Sox’ vantage point. Kimbrel struggled enormously following the swap, and he’s widely reported to be a trade candidate whenever the lockout lifts.
While the 2022 season will now be a lost one for Heuer, he can still be a prominent piece of the Cubs’ long-term relief corps. He’ll be controllable for three more seasons beyond the 2022 campaign and, if he’s able to pitch closer to his 2020 form than his 2021 upon returning, ought to be a candidate for high-leverage work before long. Heuer averaged 97.8 mph on his fastball as a rookie and posted a strong 14.4% swinging-strike rate that season.
Heuer’s velocity dipped a bit in ’21 and his fastball was hit quite a bit harder as a result — but opponents have been been embarrassingly feeble against Heuer’s offspeed offerings. Fifty-eight times so far in his young career, Heuer has ended a plate appearance while throwing a slider. He’s picked up 21 strikeouts in that time, and opponents have batted just .125/.171/.167 against the pitch. It’s been a similar story with his changeup; in 57 plate appearances ending on that pitch, opponents fanned 23 times and posted a .155/.219/.155 batting line. The slider has generated a 21.5% swinging-strike rate, while the changeup is even better at 26.6%.
With Heuer now out for the upcoming season, Rowan Wick becomes the even heavier favorite to pick up saves in the Cubs’ bullpen. They’ll quite likely be in the market for some additional bullpen help once the lockout ends, as Heuer, Wick and lefty Brad Wieck were the only three members of the currently projected relief corps who have even topped one year of Major League service time. Non-roster invitees like Jonathan Holder, Eric Yardley and Kevin McCarthy will all vie for bullpen jobs, but there’s a pretty clear need for some more established veteran arms to help piece the staff together.