The Cubs could have used a backup shortstop/second baseman Thursday night in Philadelphia, as the infield defense failed them in the disastrous ninth inning when the Phillies scored six runs, partly because ground balls that could have been fielded weren’t.
Now, they’ll have one:
Kintzler activated, Norwood demoted. Addison Russell called up, Almora optioned to Iowa.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 16, 2019
Albert Almora Jr. has struggled offensively all year. Since the All-Star break he’s hitting just .219/.237/.384 (16-for-73). He has four home runs, but just two walks in that time span.
Addison Russell, meanwhile, has been hitting well since his most recent demotion to Iowa, which came after a couple of poor plays in which he admitted not knowing signs. In 15 games since the demotion he’s hitting .333/.413/.647 (17-for-51) with four doubles and four home runs.
I’ll assume that Russell will get some starts at second base, or even shortstop to give Javier Baez a break. Jason Heyward likely plays more center field now. Almora will certainly be back September 1.
Brandon Kintzler appeared in the Cubs’ 6-5 win over the A’s August 5, then after the game revealed that he had soreness in his right pectoral muscle. Out of an abundance of caution, the team placed him on the injured list.
Kintzler has been one of the Cubs’ most effective relievers all year, posting a 2.33 ERA and 0.928 WHIP in 49 appearances. Over the last 29 of those outings, even better: 1.73 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, just one home run in 26 innings, runs allowed in only three of those 29 games. Until Craig Kimbrel returns from the IL, Kintzler could wind up getting some save opportunities.
James Norwood was recalled Thursday when Alec Mills, who threw six innings in Wednesday’s loss, was sent back to Iowa. Norwood did not appear in Thursday’s game, and his only major-league action in 2019 was a scoreless inning against the Reds May 24 at Wrigley Field. He will likely be back when rosters expand September 1.