With the MLB rosters set to expand to 40 players on Thursday, the Chicago Cubs will call up a few players from Iowa. The I-Cubs’ season ends September 5 and they’re already eliminated from the playoffs, so those players won’t be missing anything at AAA. I don’t think the Cubs are going to open up the floodgates and bring up 15 players, but I could see them adding 8-10 position players and relievers to help fill some holes and give the regulars a few more days off. There will be no starting pitchers coming from Iowa.
Ideally, you want to select players who are going to help the big league club win the division and clinch home field advantage. I don’t think the Cubs will likely bring up someone to just as a favor because of their loyalty to the organization. If they happened to go that route, that player will not likely see any action.
Armando Rivero has had an outstanding year and his 2.19 ERA and 13.5 Ks/9 inning rate are impressive. The problem is that he is not on the 40-man roster. I still wonder why the Cubs have not given him a look yet as opponents only hit .169 against him this year.
Jose Rosario has advanced 3 levels this year. He has a blazing fastball and works mainly around 95 to 96. Coming off TJS from 2015, he has been the breakout reliever in the Cubs system this year. Like Rivero, though, Rosario does not have a spot on the 40-man roster.
Corey Black and Pierce Johnson are not going to be walking through that door. They both have struggled mightily this year, although Johnson seems to be improving since moving to a relief role. I doubt if Gerardo Concepcion returns based on his performance after he went back to Iowa. On the other hand, Jack Leathersich could debut as a Cub.
Leathersich was picked up last winter after coming off TJS and has done okay at AA Tennessee. A lefty, Leathersich could be a nice addition for next year’s pen, and maybe, just maybe, his promotion could give the Cubs one more lefty for extra inning games. He’s been throwing in the low 90’s and is not yet back to full capacity following the surgery.
I think five or six position players, most of whom have spent some time in Chicago this year, might come up to be stashed on the bench. Their addition would add in giving some days off, but because they have already been up on the club, they could also be auditioning for a spot on the playoff roster.
Tim Federowicz might be renamed “Justin Case,” as he is quite the insurance policy at catcher should something happen to Ross or Montero. He would have to be added to the 40-man.
Jeimer Candelario is hitting over .370 this month with 4 bombs and 20+ RBI. The switch-hitting third baseman is peaking at the right time. I don’t think he has a chance of getting on the playoff roster, but his bat is interesting. When rosters expand, he’s call 1b behind Almora.
Munenori Kawasaki hits left-handed, he is good in the clubhouse and he’s on the 40-man. The problem is there is nowhere to play him with Russell, Baez, La Stella, and Zobrist ahead of him. I don’t think he comes up. In fact, I think his 40-man spot will be used for someone else.
Tommy La Stella’s return is all about the bat. He will get some opportunities but he will not see a lot of time on the field until the playoffs are salted away. There may some in the clubhouse who still take issue with his walkabout and I also think he might stay in Iowa until the 6th just to get a few more days of at-bats.
Albert Almora and his defense will be on the playoff roster and playing left field late in games in October. It’s a given.
Chris Coghlan may play a role in September, but I don’t know if he kicks someone off the 25-man roster come playoff time. Right now, I think Joe Maddon sticks with Szczur and Almora. It’s just that that left-handed bat is very tempting, especially as a pinch-hitter or DH.
John Andreoli’s a nice kid who hustles and plays hard, and he can play all three positions in the outfield. He’s not on the 40-man, so who is he going to replace? Do the Cubs just bring him up for speed and pinch running late in games? To me, he’s like a mini-Szczur.
Expect the Cubs to call a few up players on Thursday and the rest on the 6th, the day after Iowa’s season concludes.
In the end, I think they will only select players they think can help them reach their goals to win the division and secure home field advantage. Some players who might be redundant in their roles, likely will stay behind.