With no August 31st waiver trade deadline this year, September call-ups will play a bigger role than normal.
Thankfully for Cubs fans, the team has several intriguing options waiting in the wings. The Cubs will likely make call-ups in waves, with seven players coming yesterday, a handful more expected at the end of Iowa’s season, and Willson Contreras coming off the injured list in a matter of days.
With this list in mind, which five new faces will have the largest impact for the Cubs down the stretch.
1. Ben Zobrist
It really felt like Zobrist was going to have to walk away from the game. At 38 years old, being away from all baseball activities for as long as he was? After 100 April/May plate appearances with just one extra-base hit? It was all but a sure thing that the only World Series MVP in Cubs history was going to call it quits.
But he told Cubs brass that he wanted to give it a go, and after a month-long tour in the minors, he’s back in a Cub uniform.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how well Zobrist will perform. But Maddon will give him plenty of chances. At a minimum, he’ll be a boost to the clubhouse and get the send-off to retirement that he deserves.
The second-ranked pitching prospect in the organization impressed during his first major league stint, but his demotion to Iowa was met with command issues and an IL stint.
Since returning to from the IL on August 3rd, he’s struck out 31 of the 91 batters he’s faced while walking 11. Hitters have hit just .175 against him with a lowly .650 OPS in the extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Alzolay has the type of stuff that could play in the bullpen. If he can keep his velocity up through September, he should be considered for an October roster spot (if they get there).
3. Brad Wieck
Wieck is likely to be the only call-up that’s yet to play for the Cubs this season. The Cubs acquired him from the Padres when they traded away Carl Edwards and despite the lack of fanfare, he’s actually quite an interesting player.
The left-hander stands an absurd 6’9 tall and throws a heater that touches 96. In 31.2 career innings, he’s struck out 41 batters. However, he has also posted a 5.40 ERA in that time span.
With Derek Holland on the IL, the Cubs have just one lefty in their pen. Wieck is going to get some chances, which could lead to him making enough of an impression to enter the 2020 opening day roster conversation.
4. Robel Garcia
Garcia has been such an incredible breakout story. He’s gone from playing in Italy to crushing 31 bombs between AA, AAA, and the majors.
Check out these numbers over his last 10 games:
If Zobrist isn’t able to get back into form, the Cubs will still be looking for production out of a bench bat. He came off the bench yesterday in a big spot and grounded out sharply. We’ll see how many chances he’ll get.
Norwood was not among the initial wave of call-ups, but he was with the Cubs last week for three games while Cole Hamels was on the paternity list. With that being the case, it’s safe to assume that he’ll be a part of their second wave of call-ups.
Norwood has only thrown one inning in the majors this season, which is a bit surprising given his 100 MPH fastball. Over 57.2 innings in Iowa, he’s struck out 82 hitters. He hasn’t given up an earned run over his last 11 innings. The Cubs need every out they can get from their pen, so hopefully Norwood can become a factor.
Featured Photo: Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs