Cubs Place Jordan Wicks on IL, Add Richard Lovelady Among Pitching Moves

The Cubs announced Sunday that lefty Jordan Wicks has been placed on the 15-day IL with a left forearm strain, which was pretty much to be expected and doesn’t shed much light on the severity of the issue. Justin Steele went on the IL last June for the same reason and was out just over two weeks, so this could be the same sort of precautionary measure. It’s possible, however, that “strain” is a euphemism for something worse.

Let’s lean toward the former.

A few other pitching moves were made Sunday as well, with Luke Little being optioned back to Iowa as he struggles with consistency. In order to fill the staff, the Cubs recalled Daniel Palencia and selected the contract of Richard Lovelady. There was already an open spot on the 40-man from Julian Merriweather going on the 60-day IL, so the team didn’t have to find room for Lovelady.

The Cubs added the 28-year-old lefty on a minor-league deal this winter as a low-risk depth move and he now has a chance to make that move pay off. Before his elbow gave out in 2021, Lovelady put up a 3.48 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 10 walks over 20.2 innings in 20 appearances. He didn’t pitch again until this past season with the A’s, prior to which he made a brief stop in the Braves system. His fastball velocity was right around 91 mph, which was down a couple ticks from his ’21 campaign.

After working with the industry leaders at Driveline over the winter, Lovelady’s fastball is back up in the 92-ish range and should play up higher in game action. I’m really interested in the changeup, though, because he seemed to be showcasing that in the offseason after throwing only five of them in 27 appearances with Oakland last year.

He has also shown off a curveball that should sit in the low 80s with less sweep than the slider, differentiating it in terms of both shape and velocity. It could be that he’s had the curve in his bag and just never threw it in games, though maybe it’s something he picked up at Driveline.

Looking at his 5.84 ERA over 12.1 innings with Iowa might tell you Lovelady isn’t pitching very well, but he’s got 20 strikeouts and just one walk in that time. He’s clearly living in the zone, just maybe too much so with 22 hits allowed. Perhaps he’s just figuring out his new stuff.

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