Righty reliever Ethan Roberts gave us the feel-good story of the spring with his heartfelt reaction to the news that he’d made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, but the first chapter was an abbreviated one. Roberts pitched only 7.2 innings over nine games, posting an 8.22 ERA with nine strikeouts and six walks as he worked to find his footing. Right shoulder inflammation landed him on the 10-day IL on May 2, after which he was transferred to the 60-day IL to free up a roster spot and give him more time to rest up.
Just one out into his first rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on June 19, Roberts left the mound in obvious discomfort accompanied by a trainer. Tests revealed an elbow issue, likely a UCL tear that is either complete or very significant, that will require surgery. No date has been set for the procedure, though we can assume it’ll take place as soon as possible.
Roberts has some of the best spin rates in the game and showed the potential for being a shutdown reliever when his mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider were working. While this is certainly a big setback for him, I have no doubt he’ll crush his rehab and come back better than before.