The Cubs placed right-hander Michael Fulmer on the 15-day injured list due to a right forearm strain, according to Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun-Times (X link). Righty Daniel Palencia was called up from Triple-A in the corresponding move.
This is the second time in less than a month that a forearm strain has sent Fulmer to the IL, as he only returned earlier this week from a previous stint that sidelined him from August 25 to September 11. Fulmer tossed two-thirds of an inning last Monday in what amounted to his only appearance in his return from the injured list.
Given the timing and nature of the injury, it would certainly seem like Fulmer’s 2023 season could be over. Manager David Ross stated that Fulmer had been trying to pitch through some discomfort prior to his first IL trip, and if that forearm discomfort has continued, Fulmer will surely be held out beyond the 15-day minimum for precautionary reasons if nothing else. With the Cubs in the wild card race, Fulmer might possibly be an option for a postseason roster if Chicago does make it into the playoffs, but that isn’t likely to be known until Fulmer undergoes another set of tests.
Fulmer has previously undergone both a Tommy John surgery and an ulnar nerve transposition surgery in his career, so he is unfortunately no stranger to significant arm problems. This could give the Cubs and Fulmer even more reason for caution, and these late-season IL stints might certainly hamper Fulmer’s market as a free agent this winter.
The righty has a 4.42 ERA over 57 innings for Chicago this season, with a mediocre 11.8% walk rate standing out as Fulmer’s biggest problem. This lack of control has undermined some other good numbers for Fulmer, as he has an above-average 27.4% strikeout rate and been among the game’s best at limiting hard contact.
Losing Fulmer is another blow to a Cubs bullpen that already lost closer Adbert Alzolay to a forearm strain earlier this week. In need of relief help for the playoff push, the Cubs will be using Marcus Stroman out of the bullpen for at least a little while until Stroman fully ramps up after a lengthy stint on the injured list. While Chicago’s relief corps has been solid overall this season, they’ll face a challenge with this makeshift approach over the regular season’s final weeks.