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One-game Cubs, 2020-21

These Cubs share a distinction: They played in just one game for the team.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last couple of years, I’ve posted articles here commemorating Cubs who played in just one game for the team, from 1970-2009 and during the 2010s.

With the Cubs using a MLB record 69 players during the 2021 season — and 47 in the abbreviated 60-game pandemic 2020 season! — I thought I’d take a look at this again, and indeed, there are five men, four of them pitchers, who appeared in just one game for the Chicago Cubs franchise in those two years.

A reminder that this is for players playing just one game for the Cubs — most of them have also played for other MLB teams.

Let’s remember some guys who were barely Cubs!

Ian Miller, August 23, 2020

This is one of the shortest careers ever with the Cubs. With two out in the seventh inning of this game and the Cubs leading 2-1, Jason Kipnis singled.

Miller was sent in to run for Kipnis.

Ian Happ was the next batter, and he grounded out on a 2-1 pitch to end the inning.

If you watch this video of Happ’s groundout, you can briefly see Miller in the background running toward second base. That’s the summary of his Cubs career.

Miller was at Cubs Spring Training in 2020, spent most of that year at the team’s alternate site and played for Triple-A Iowa in 2021, batting .261/.334/.345 in 106 games, where he stole 20 bases in 21 attempts. He’s currently a minor league free agent.

Matt Dermody, September 6, 2020

Dermody pitched in 28 games for the Blue Jays in 2016 and 2017 and the Cubs thought they might be getting a decent situational lefty when they signed him in August 2020.

He got just one chance with the team, the ninth inning of this 7-3 loss to the Cardinals. It was a 1-2-3 inning which included this strikeout of Paul DeJong [VIDEO].

That’s Matt Vasgersian making that rather distracted call, as this game was on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Brailyn Márquez, September 27, 2020

Márquez got an unexpected callup from the alternate site on the last day of the 2020 regular season. Having not pitched in a competitive game all year due to the pandemic — and also having never pitched above A-ball previously — he entered this game in the bottom of the seventh with the Cubs leading 10-1.

It was a disaster. Márquez was, perhaps predictably, wild. He walked the first two men he faced, served up a wild pitch and eventually allowed a couple of run-scoring hits. Five runs were charged to him, but he did strike out eventual AL MVP Jose Abreu on a 99 mile per hour fastball [VIDEO].

Márquez then missed the entire 2021 season due to injury. He turns 23 in January and will have a lot of catching up to do. It still seems likely he’ll return to the major leagues. I hope so, as it’d be awful to have this as your only MLB game.

As of now, the three players above are the only Cubs in franchise history to play just one game for the team in front of no fans.

Robert Stock, June 16, 2021

Stock made 52 relief appearances for the Padres and Red Sox from 2018-20. The Cubs picked him up in the 2020-21 offseason on a waiver claim, and needed a starter for this game against the Mets, and he was the available guy at Iowa.

He was up against Mets ace Jacob deGrom. So maybe that’s why; The Cubs figured they weren’t going to win this game anyway, so why burn a better pitcher?

deGrom, who was on a pitch count, no-hit the Cubs for three innings, striking out eight of the nine hitters he faced. (The only one who didn’t K? Anthony Rizzo, who flied to right with one out in the first.)

Stock, meanwhile, was walking almost everyone in sight, six in all in four innings, with five runs allowed.

The Cubs wound up losing 6-2. The only thing Stock did of note was become the first player in Cubs history to wear No. 89.

Stock was optioned back to Iowa the next day and three days later was designated for assignment. The Mets claimed him two days after that and he started twice for them, pitching better — but only slightly — than he did for the Cubs.

His Mets distinction: Becoming the first player in Mets history to wear No. 89.

Tyler Ladendorf, October 2, 2021

Another of the players added to the roster due to COVID, Ladendorf, who had 53 previous games with the A’s in 2015 and 2016, entered this game to pinch-hit for starter Adrian Sampson.

He saw five pitches from Jon Lester and grounded out. Saved for posterity, here’s that out [VIDEO].

Tyler Payne, October 3, 2021

Payne became the last of the Cubs’ franchise record nine catchers in 2021. He batted for Catcher No. 8, Erick Castillo, in the fifth inning and struck out. He stayed in the game and caught the final three innings, and batted again in the seventh, striking out again.

Here’s that strikeout, on a 3-2 pitch [VIDEO].

Payne became the second player in Cubs history to wear No. 96. The first was Bill Voiselle in 1950, who did so because he hailed from Ninety Six, South Carolina.

Joe Biagini, October 3, 2021

Biagini had been a decent middle relief guy for the Blue Jays from 2016-18 — even pitching in the postseason for Toronto in 2016.

But two bad years for Houston in 2019 and 2020 had put his career on the brink. The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal before 2021 and he spent most of the year as a starter, and not pitching well, for Iowa.

COVID opened some roster room in the year’s final week and Biagini was activated fo the last game of the year in St. Louis.

He entered the game in the fifth with the Cubs leading 3-2, and immediately put the Cardinals offense off balance. He allowed two singles and a walk but no runs in three innings of work. He also struck out a pair and when the game was stopped by rain before the top of the eighth could begin, Biagini became the winning pitcher.

Here, he strikes out Andrew Knizner on a nice changeup [VIDEO].

If Biagini never pitches in the big leagues again — and odds are he won’t — he can have this game as a nice final memory.

There they are, the five players so far this decade who have played in exactly one Cubs game. One of them is likely going to have many more.