The Cubs have a full active roster at the moment, but they’ll continue to tweak things as needed down the stretch. That’s likely to include getting a lefty reliever back to the big club at some point soon to give David Ross someone other than Mark Leiter Jr. to face left-handed hitters. Brandon Hughes had been the token southpaw in the ‘pen for a while, but a recurring knee issue led to a cleanup procedure in June that has kept him on the IL.
Hughes began throwing off a mound again on August 15 and is scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Iowa Cubs as he begins a rehab assignment. Assuming he can recapture the stuff he showed when fully healthy, he’ll provide a nice boost for the stretch run.
Righty Nick Burdi is likewise joining the I-Cubs to rehab again from an extended absence that began in late May following an emergency appendectomy. He had initially begun a rehab assignment on August 8 but suffered a brief setback when he experienced ulnar nerve irritation. Burdi’s fastball touches triple digits and he’s posted monster strikeout numbers throughout his career, but he’s also issued a ton of walks.
If nothing else, he gives the Cubs a flame-throwing option with a different look from most of their other pitchers.
Another very likely possibility to pick up some innings down the stretch is big lefty Luke Little, who just pitched on back-to-back days for the first time all season. After posting a 3.12 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 34.2 innings at Double-A, the 2020 draft pick was promoted to Triple-A and just kept shoving. He has 21 Ks in 11.2 innings and his 1.54 ERA is stellar.
Walks have been an issue for Little as well, but the ability to miss bats with very high frequency mitigates a lot of that. With the Cubs in the early stages of playing 14 games in 13 days, they’re probably going to need reinforcements in the near future.