Boxberger’s placement is retroactive to September 22, yet the timing of the IL stint means that he’ll miss both the end of the regular season and at least the Cubs’ wild card series, should Chicago reach the postseason. In the bigger picture, however, there must be concern that Boxberger could miss an even longer amount of time, considering that he has already miss most of the 2023 campaign due to another strain to that same forearm. The reliever’s previous injury kept him on the shelf from mid-May until just two weeks ago, and he made only five appearances before heading back to the IL.
Signed to a one-year, $2.8MM free agent deal this past winter, Boxberger has been able to pitch only 20 innings for the Cubs in 2023, posting a 4.95 ERA with underwhelming strikeout (20.2%) and walk (13.1%) rates. Naturally it is fair to point to the recurring forearm problem as the cause of Boxberger’s struggles, as the righty was much more effective in posting a 3.13 ERA in 146 2/3 innings for the Marlins and Brewers from 2020-22.
Boxberger becomes the third Cubs reliever to be sidelined by a September forearm strain, as he joins closer Adbert Alzolay and Michael Fulmer on the 15-day IL. Like Boxberger, Fulmer also made a quick return to the IL soon after being activated from a prior forearm injury, and is likewise a question mark for the remainder of the season. The news is better for Alzolay, as he threw a bullpen session yesterday and might be able to return on Tuesday (his first day eligible to be activated) or soon thereafter.