According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Cubs have placed southpaw reliever Daniel Norris on the IL with a finger strain and recalled right-handed pitcher Adrian Sampson from Triple-A Iowa.
Given Norris’ struggles this season, this feels very much like a phantom IL stint. A finger strain could be what’s causing Norris to have so many issues with effectiveness on the mound, but it’s unlikely. The former 2011 second-round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays has yielded a 7.24 ERA in 27.1 innings pitched this season.
Norris’ Recent Performance
In the ninth inning of a 15-4 blowout victory by the Cubs on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Norris allowed four runs on one hit, one walk, and one hit batter. Somehow, that lackluster performance lowered his ERA from 7.52 to 7.24 because none of the runs allowed were earned.
The Cubs were most likely thinking Norris was someone they could mold in their pitch lab, effectively taking advantage of his above-average fastball spin rate and changeup vertical movement. The changeup has been good. Batters only hit .100 (3-30) against Norris’s changeup, and he struck out 45.5 percent of batters on that pitch.
However, Norris has struggled with control, and his four-seamer has been getting crushed all season. Norris’s 33.6 percent strikeout rate ranks top six percent in the league, but his 14.3 percent walk rate is in the bottom four percent. Opposing hitters have a 65.5 percent hard hit rate and .509 xwOBA against Norris’s four-seamer.
Adrian Sampson Returns
As for the pitcher recalled from Triple-A Iowa, right-handed reliever Adrian Sampson was excellent his last time out with the big league club. The Cubs sent him down to reach the league’s required 13-pitcher limit and because Sampson had thrown 56 pitches, making him unavailable for a few days. Sampson tossed 4.2 innings and gave up only one hit while striking out five batters against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
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