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Cubs Hope That Rookie Starter Will Return to the Rotation Soon

Chicago Cubs right-hander Ben Brown was placed on the 15-day injured list on Tuesday with a left neck strain. While Brown is out, Jordan Wicks was reinstated from the 15-day IL on Friday and is the primary candidate to take Brown’s spot in the rotation. Brown has been effective in his rookie season with the Cubs. His ability to move from the rotation to the bullpen gives the Cubs great flexibility to work with. As for Wicks, the left-hander will look to stick around in a great rotation.

Ben Brown’s Injury Comes After Wicks’ Return

Brown had been complaining of soreness on the left side of his neck for weeks. The 24-year-old right-hander last started Saturday in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Manager Craig Counsell said the move was proactive and said there didn’t appear to be a definitive play that caused the injury. But the Cubs are playing it safe with Brown who has been making steady progress this season. He is 1-3 with a 3.58 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings.

Wicks is 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings pitched. He came in relief for Brown in Friday’s loss to the Reds. He pitched well giving up one earned run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings. His return gives the Cubs three lefties in their rotation.

Brewer, Almonte Roster Moves and Rehab Assignments

The Cubs also called up Colton Brewer after a stint on the IL. Brewer, 31, is a journeyman reliever who has seven appearances for the club this season. He last saw action on May 12 pitching one scoreless inning in relief. Brewer has a career 4.78 ERA with 104 strikeouts and 65 walks in 111 innings pitched.

Yency Almonte was sent to Arizona on June 6 for more rehab stemming from a right shoulder strain. Almonte reportedly didn’t feel well after his outing against the Padres on May 7.  He was placed on the IL, retroactively, on May 8. The right-hander is expected to begin mound workouts in Arizona. The club hopes to have him back with the team in June. Almonte, 30, is 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA and 20 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings in 17 appearances this year.

Longer-Term Recovery Updates

Cubs No. 1 prospect (No. 17 MLB Top 100 List) Cade Horton is on the 7-day minor league IL with a right lat strain. Horton hasn’t pitched since May 29 where he threw 20 pitches in one inning with 2 earned runs for Triple-A Iowa. He won’t start throwing for three or four weeks according to Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer.

Cabe Killian, 27, resumed throwing bullpen sessions on June 7 as he recovers from a right shoulder strain suffered in a March 5 start against the Royals. The Cubs acquired Killian in the trade that sent Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants in 2021. His expected return is in July. Adbert Alzolay (right flexor strain) is on the 60-day IL as well. The Cubs struggling closer is currently in rehab in Arizona and isn’t expected to begin throwing. Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) has resumed playing catch and Counsell foresees his return after the All-Star Break.

Main Photo: © Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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