Tuesday night, the Cubs begin a stretch of 23 consecutive games in 23 days; their next off day is September 13.
That will put stress on the pitching staff in particular, first, because we don’t yet know the status of Mike Montgomery, second, because Tyler Chatwood was ineffective in his last start and whether he gets another one is an open question.
In the middle of that 23-game run, September 1 occurs. That’s good, because on that date, teams can expand their active rosters to include, potentially, everyone on the 40-man roster. In reality, most teams don’t carry more than about 34 or 35 players.
So given who’s currently on the Cubs’ active roster, who will they add? I’m adding players given the list currently on the 25-man roster, linked in the previous sentence.
The 40-man roster currently stands at 39, so one player can be added without having to remove anyone. If the Cubs want to add someone to the active roster who’s not currently on the 40-man, I would think Brian Duensing will be moved to the 60-day DL. Duensing isn’t likely to pitch again in 2018, as his role has basically been taken by Jorge De La Rosa.
Often, we hear these players termed “September callups.” Almost every player the Cubs might add to the active roster in September has either played for the team this year or in the majors for someone else, so I’m going to say “roster additions” rather than “callups.”
Quite a number of pitchers who will be added in September have already been in the big leagues with the Cubs. Luke Farrell, Dillon Maples, Cory Mazzoni, Alec Mills, James Norwood, Duane Underwood Jr. and Rob Zastryzny are all on the 40-man roster, all have pitched in the majors this year and all can be recalled.
It’s possible all of these men might be recalled, although having 20 pitchers on the active roster is a bit unwieldy. The least likely guys from that list, I’d think, would be Mills and Zastryzny. The others have all contributed at one time or another this year.
Anthony Bass also pitched for the Cubs this year and was reasonably effective, but he was recently outrighted to Iowa off the 40-man roster, so he’d need a spot there if the Cubs wanted him back in the bullpen.
Also, given what’s going on with Yu Darvish, it’s not impossible that the Cubs could try to add another starting pitcher from outside the organization before September 1.
The Cubs could use a third catcher. Chris Gimenez is still in the organization and could be added, though he would take a 40-man spot. So would anyone acquired from outside the organization. I’ve mentioned before that the Cubs could probably get Drew Butera from the Royals for not very much in return. Butera really can’t hit at all, but is decent defensively.
It’s been mentioned by some that Addison Russell appears to be hurt, a finger injury, and might need some time off soon. Thus it might not be a bad idea to add a player who can play shortstop. (Please don’t say Mike Freeman.) Ryan Court has played quite a bit of short at Triple-A Iowa this year and has hit well. He would also take up a 40-man spot.
The Cubs recently acquired Terrance Gore from the Royals. There would be little point to doing this unless they planned to add him to the 40-man and active rosters for September, to serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. Since he’s in the organization now, he is already eligible to play in postseason games for the Cubs. I think this is the closest thing to a lock for September, adding Gore to the active roster.
It’s also not impossible that the Cubs might add Chris Coghlan, who’s been playing at Iowa since July. His overall numbers aren’t great, but since August 1 he’s been hitting pretty well. Coghlan could serve as a useful pinch-hitter. He’d need a 40-man spot as well, so this is a longshot.
Bottom line, I would expect the Cubs to add somewhere in the area of six pitchers, and two or three position players, for a total of eight or nine additions to the active roster. The Cubs will be in Philadelphia to face the Phillies September 1, and by that time they will be just about halfway (11 games) into this 23-game run. They’ll need the reinforcements.