The Cubs got some unwelcome injury news today on two fronts. Closer Craig Kimbrel was placed on the 10-day IL with a knee injury, while further examination revealed that catcher Willson Contreras is expected to miss about a month of action. ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers covered the news (links to Twitter).
Righty Duane Underwood Jr. is coming up to replace Kimbrel on the active roster. The hope, clearly, is that it won’t be a lengthy absence for the recently added veteran.
All that’s really known at the moment is that Kimbrel is dealing with inflammation, though it seems he has already been cleared of major structural issues with an MRI. The veteran hurler says he’s confident he’ll be ready to return after the minimum absence.
Kimbrel has already saved nine games for the Cubbies. But the new relationship has been a bit rocky. In 12 2/3 innings, Kimbrel has already coughed up four home runs. He has exhibited a clear loss of velocity and sports a 17:8 K/BB ratio (a 15.0% K%-BB% is less than half his career average), though he’s still managing a strong 16.5% swinging-strike rate that’s right at his career mean.
Hopefully, the Chicago org will welcome back an even better version of Kimbrel once he has taken a brief respite and sorted out his knee. The team is facing a rather more worrying situation with its top backstop.
Contreras suggested that he expects at least four weeks on the shelf, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Tribune reports (Twitter links). He indicated that he’ll be taking a cautious recovery path — no doubt a good idea given the timing. While there’s every reason to believe Contreras will be fully healed in time for the stretch run and postseason, it’d only take one setback to put that at risk.
It stands to reason that the Cubs will be on the hunt for another receiver — a search that’ll be complicated by the new August acquisition rules. The club had Martin Maldonado briefly, but shipped him on to the Astros before the trade deadline. At present, Victor Caratini and Taylor Davis are holding down the fort.