In the next wave of Cubs roster moves, Justin Grimm and Tommy La Stella have arrived back in Chicago after short stays in Iowa. Grimm’s return trip from Des Moines comes just two days after he was optioned to AAA. Though he’s throwing slightly harder this year (1+ mph), the righty reliever has underwhelmed opponents due to spotty command (5.84 BB/9).
In order to get the most of hard fastballs, though, the byproduct of the Matt Garza trade (along with Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Olt) will need to disguise his best pitches. While he was once capable of making batters expand their strike zone, Grimm’s recent inconsistencies have contributed to batters swinging at pitches outside the strike zone 18 less this year.
The subject of much teeth-gnashing last season, La Stella’s time in Iowa went smoothly this time around. For starters, he actually reported. In 49 PAs with the AAA squad, the utility infielder batted .267 with one homer while sporting an 8.2 percent walk rate and 20.4 percent strikeout rate. MLB projection models have always been kind to La Stella and even ZiPS thinks the Cubs can squeeze a .312 wOBA out of him the rest of the season. Joe Maddon and Co. would certainly welcome close to league-average offensive production from the lefty batter.
In order to make room on the roster, Brett Anderson was placed on the DL with lower back problems. After signing a $3.5 million deal in the offseason, the Cubs envisioned a deep pocket of potential pitchers from which to chose. Yet, with Anderson struggling and now injured, the World Champs’ pocket might have gotten a little shallower. No word has been given on who will replace Anderson in the rotation, but Maddon named Eddie Butler and Mike Montgomery as the favorites.
Rob Zastryzny will go back to Iowa after appearing in one game, giving up three earned runs, one homer, and walking four while striking out one in a respectable four innings of action against the Yankees. The man with the odd last name hadn’t starting in Iowa, much to my surprise, even though he started 14 games the previous season and was considered a potential rotation option for the Cubs down the road. Perhaps he will still be considered for the rotation at some point, and pitching out of the pen in Iowa is simply for circumstances when the Cubs need an emergency reliever.
There are sure to be other moves coming in the next few weeks, as Anderson is (maybe) activated and the Cubs need to address other potential issues with the rotation and/or pen.