Chicago Cubs

Cubs notes: Brandon Morrow might not pitch again before playoffs

Cubs relief pitcher Brandon Morrow celebrates after striking out the Cardinals' Tommy Pham to end a game June 16 in St. Louis.
Cubs relief pitcher Brandon Morrow celebrates after striking out the Cardinals' Tommy Pham to end a game June 16 in St. Louis.

MILWAUKEE – Cubs manager Joe Maddon acknowledged Wednesday that time is running out for closer Brandon Morrow to pitch again during the regular season.

Asked if there was enough time, Maddon replied: “Barely. Barely. Barely. We’re very much aware of that. We’d love to have him back. Even when he does come back, if it is toward the end (of the regular season), how do you utilize that because you can’t push him two days in a row? That impacts the rest of the group. These are the things we have to consider.”

Morrow, whom the Cubs signed to a two-year deal in December, has been on the 10-day disabled list, effective July 18, with right biceps inflammation. He has appeared in only 35 games, with 22 saves and a 1.47 ERA.

He played catch again Wednesday, but he is not throwing off the mound. The regular season ends Sept. 30, so time is working against him pitching in a game this season.

Maddon repeatedly has said the Cubs do not have a designated closer in Morrow’s absence, but Pedro Strop has 11 saves. Lefty Justin Wilson, who had 13 saves last year with Detroit before being traded to the Cubs in July, is another option.

Maddon admitted it’s more difficult to win without one lockdown closer. The Cubs had Aroldis Chapman in the second half of 2016 on their way to a World Series title. Last year, Wade Davis was dependable in getting the Cubs to the National League Championship Series.

“When you have an anchor, that one guy at the end who can get the three-plus outs, you can manage the game differently,” Maddon said. “It’s like how we used Wade last year in Washington (in the NLCS). If you don’t have that, you have to manipulate it. Does it become more difficult? It probably does. But it can be done.”

Not tired yet: The Cubs played their 16th game in 16 days Wednesday on the way to 23 games in 23 days. Maddon insists his team is physically OK with doing that this late in the season.

“We had a tough game [Tuesday] night, but otherwise we’ve been playing really well,” Maddon said, referring to an 11-1 loss to the Brewers. “We’ve been playing really well for a good period of time in spite of the difficult schedule to this moment. I’m really proud of the way our guys have handled that because I don’t really sense fatigue. I don’t feel that from the group.”

The Cubs were headed to Washington for a four-game series before coming home Monday to play the Brewers. Their next day off is Sept. 13.

Happy to help in any way: Left-hander Jaime Garcia met the news media Wednesday, a day after having his contract selected from Triple-A Iowa. Garcia, 32, signed a minor league deal with the Cubs on Aug. 31 after spending the season with Toronto.

He has been a starting pitcher for almost all of his career. For the Blue Jays, he started 13 games in 25 appearances overall, enduring two stints on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

“A lot of things have happened so fast for me,” he said. “But it’s a good surprise. I’m excited to be here.”

The Cubs will use Garcia out of the bullpen.

“I came here, and I made myself available,” he said. “I told them, ‘Hey, whatever you guys feel like I can contribute to this team, win some ballgames, I’m here for that.’ ”
 

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