The Cubs are selecting righty Robert Gsellman onto the big league roster, as Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune was among those to relay (on Twitter). Drew Smyly, who had been scheduled to start this evening’s game against the White Sox, has been placed on the bereavement list to open active roster space. Southpaw Locke St. John has been designated for assignment in a corresponding 40-man roster move.
Gsellman inked a minor league deal with Chicago during Spring Training. He’d been non-tendered by the Mets, with whom he had spent his entire career. The Southern California native broke into the majors late in the 2016 season and flashed some potential as a starter during his rookie campaign. He struggled over 119 2/3 innings the following year, though, and he spent the next few seasons working out of the bullpen.
In the four years since moving to relief, Gsellman has tossed 186 1/3 innings of 4.73 ERA ball. His 19.2% strikeout rate was below-average, but he had a solid 8.1% walk percentage and induced ground-balls at an above-average 47% clip. Gsellman missed a good portion of last season because of a lat injury, and his strikeout rate dipped to 14.3% in 28 2/3 frames.
Assigned to Triple-A Iowa to start this season, Gsellman has started four of his five appearances. He’s tossed 15 1/3 innings with a tiny 1.17 ERA, albeit again with subpar swing-and-miss numbers. The Cubs will hope that Gsellman’s ground-ball approach can carry over against big league hitters. He’ll give them a multi-inning arm for an impromptu bullpen game tonight in Smyly’s absence, which will be opened by Scott Effross.
Chicago selected St. John onto the 40-man roster last month. He made one appearance, tossing two innings of three-run ball against Milwaukee on Saturday before being optioned out. The 29-year-old has tossed seven innings with Iowa, allowing four runs. He has fanned eight but also issued six walks and hit a trio of batters. The Cubs will have a week to trade him or place him on waivers.
In other news, starting pitcher Wade Miley is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Thursday, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Claimed off waivers from the Reds over the offseason, the veteran southpaw has yet to make his team debut on account of inflammation in his throwing elbow.