The Chicago Cubs announced a return from injury today. Right-handed relief pitcher Manny Rodriguez returns from the 60-Day IL. To make room for Man Rod on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred RHP Alec Mills to the 60-Day IL. Mills has been out with a back injury since July 2. RHP Kervin Castro was also demoted to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster. Castro is 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA in eight games with the Cubs.
Before being reinstated, Manny Rodriguez had been rehabbing an elbow injury, which kept him out for most of the 2022 season. In five rehab appearances between Rookie Ball and Triple-A Iowa, Rodriguez pitched six innings with 12 strikeouts, two walks, and a 1.50 ERA.
The 26-year-old reliever flashed high-leverage role upside last season with two variations of fastballs that averaged 97 MPH and a power slider that averaged 87.5 MPH. However, the 6.11 ERA and 14.5 percent walk rate were a problem. It was good to see him yield only two walks during rehab appearances.
Getting Man Rod back on a big league mound is fantastic news. His stuff plays, and he could be a key contributor in a high leverage role next season, given the pieces the Cubs shipped out of town at the trade deadline.
Speaking of Cubs pitchers working their way back from injury, Adbert Alzolay is nearing a return. On Monday, Alzolay started for the ACL Cubs and pitched three innings while allowing three hits, one earned run, zero walks, and striking out four. The team announced today that Alzolay will make a rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa tomorrow.
Alzolay has been out of action all season due to a right lat strain suffered in Spring Training. It’s unknown what the plan will be for Alzolay upon his return to the Cubs. The Cubs could elect to use him out of the bullpen to keep him healthy while still allowing him to get necessary innings of work.
The 27-year-old pitched in 29 games last season with a 4.58 ERA. He is under contract through 2026. Although the injuries have mounted for Alzolay and impeded his development, he still has a lot of potential. Maybe the best way to utilize him moving forward is a permanent bullpen role, where you can maximize his effectiveness vs. right-handed hitters.