The rest of Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel’s season could be in jeopardy after the team placed the veteran reliever on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation late Thursday afternoon. The Cubs (who apparently either missed the memo about September call-ups or are very committed to keeping their Triple-A club competitive in the playoffs) announced the move while also recalling infielder David Bote from Iowa and optioning catcher Taylor Davis to the minor-league club:
The #Cubs today placed RHP Craig Kimbrel on the 10-day IL (retroactive to 9/2) with right elbow inflammation.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 5, 2019
INF David Bote was recalled from @IowaCubs and catcher Taylor Davis was optioned to Triple-A. pic.twitter.com/z0dfWSUPyW
Per initial reaction from president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and manager Joe Maddon, the team doesn’t seem overly concerned about the seven-time All-Star’s health, as an MRI came back clean. With that said, these things often change quickly, and it seems notable that the team felt the need to officially shut Kimbrel down for a week, as there’s no requirement for them to put a player on the injured list in September with the maximum roster size being expanded to 40.
While he hasn’t exactly been great this year, the loss of Kimbrel is still bad for a Cubs team that is trying to battle back into the division lead in the Central and currently sits three games behind the Cardinals, as well as three games ahead of the Diamondbacks for the second NL wild-card spot. Kimbrel, who has a 5.68 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 21 appearances since debuting for the Cubs in late June. This is the second time he’s hit the injured list in a month; he was out from August 5-18 with right knee inflammation. Despite that minor setback during August, he had been trending upward recently, posting a 1.35 ERA over seven games in August while holding opponents to a .167/.259/.333 slash line for the month.
The Cubs improved their bullpen depth quite a bit as the season went on, and while the reliever who probably would be the most logical candidate to fill in for Kimbrel based on stuff (Pedro Strop) has struggled this season, they have gotten strong contributions from Brandon Kintzler, Steve Cishek, Rowan Wick, and David Phelps, among others.