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Cubs roster moves: Adbert Alzolay and Dillon Maples activated from IL as rosters expand

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Two pitchers return to active status, and the active roster limit is now 28 for the rest of the regular season.

Adbert Alzolay leaves the game August 13 in Miami after suffering a hamstring strain
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs added two players to the active roster Wednesday as rosters expanded:

Adbert Alzolay has been on the injured list since August 14 with a left hamstring strain. He made one rehab start with Triple-A Iowa August 25, allowing four runs in two innings.

For the Cubs this year, Alzolay has with a 5.16 ERA and 107 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .239 average (96-for-401) in 21 starts.

Dillon Maples has been on the injured list since July 29; at the time the reported reason was a blister. He was sent to Iowa on a rehab assignment August 11.

For the Cubs this year, Maples has appeared in 24 games covering 27⅔ innings. He’s got a 2.28 ERA and 1.120 WHIP, which are good numbers. His walk rate — 6.2 per nine innings — is still too high, but it’s down from previous years, and Maples allowed just 12 hits in those innings while striking out 36.

These two activations come on the day MLB rosters can expand, September 1. But unlike many previous years, teams are now limited to a 28-man roster in September instead of the previous limit, which was the entire 40-man roster. Many teams — including the Cubs — had vastly expanded rosters in September in 2019 and previously, and MLB wanted to avoid parades of relievers with 15-man bullpens. You can be sure that teams also wanted to cut down on travel expenses for September game as well.

One other thing that’s changed with the new roster rules:

Before 2020, days spent on a Major League roster did not count toward rookie eligibility if they came in September. In theory, a player could have 44 days on Aug. 31 and still not graduate from rookie status even if he was in the Majors for the duration of September.

That changed in 2020, and the alteration continues to stick in ‘21. Days spent on the active Major League roster will count toward the 45 needed to graduate from rookie status. So prepare for more prospect graduations in the weeks ahead.

The Cubs have used 63 different players this year, which is a franchise record (previous record, 57 in 2013). The MLB record is 67, set by the 2019 Mariners. It doesn’t seem likely that the Cubs will use four more players this year who haven’t previously played for them, but the way things have gone in 2021, you never know.

Meanwhile, catcher Willson Contreras hasn’t played since August 11. He was placed on the 10-day injured list after that date with what was described as a right knee sprain.

Willson was sent to Indianapolis Tuesday on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Iowa, and he went 2-for-3, including this home run:

We will, apparently, have to wait a bit longer for Willson to re-join the MLB Cubs, perhaps at Wrigley Field this weekend when the Cubs face the Pirates.