Trio of Cubs to begin rehab assignments

June 26th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs are inching their way closer to a reunion with a few pitchers on the injured list. The club announced Friday that right-handers and and left-hander will travel to Triple-A Iowa this weekend to begin their respective rehab assignments.

Maples, who landed on the 10-day injured list with a right triceps strain, will pitch Saturday for Iowa before he can rejoin the bullpen. He owned a 1.99 ERA in 18 games prior to his injury.

Williams and Steele will venture to the Midwest on Sunday after their bullpen sessions on Thursday went well. Steele is approaching his return to the bullpen after he suffered a right hamstring strain. The reliever participated in fielding drills at Wrigley Field before he tossed a bullpen session at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs are slowly building up Williams to potentially be a part of the starting rotation. Williams underwent an appendectomy in late May. Before he was sidelined, he'd pitched 43 2/3 innings with a 5.36 ERA.

"He's got to build back up to be able to pitch big league innings,” manager David Ross said. “I don't know how long that's gonna take. [We need] to pitch and assess and continue to build up, but his body is in a good place, like a Spring Training type.”

Infielder may start a rehab assignment early next weekend, if the next steps of his recovery process go well as he comes back from a left shoulder dislocation.

Contreras joins no-no catching
The Cubs have had their fun with no-hitters. Thursday night was the latest addition to the franchise’s long list of no-nos, as , , and banded together and tossed the 17th no-hitter in Cubs history.

Since 2015, Chicago has tossed four no-hitters, with Thursday being the club’s first combined no-no. For catcher , it was a long-awaited chance to relish the joy of history after watching it from the sidelines for so long.

The 29-year-old backstop was in the Minors when Jake Arrieta tossed both of his no-hitters in 2015 and '16 as Ross, who was a backup catcher at the time, caught the latter.

Contreras was in the dugout when Alec Mills and Victor Caratini kept the Brewers off the board through nine hitless innings. He’s yearned to join history since his debut in the summer of 2016. While he helped the Cubs end their 108-year World Series drought, he had to wait a little while longer for this moment.

“It means a lot,” Contreras said following the game. “Personally, from catching this team since 2016, I’ve been catching a lot of good games, but nothing like a no-hitter. [Thursday] was one of those super personal moments and will be hard for me to forget.”

Bullpen success
Coincidentally, the three relief pitchers who helped secure the Cubs' no-hitter have also been big contributors to the overall success of the bullpen.

Since May 16, Cubs relievers have posted the best bullpen ERA in the Majors at 1.54. By limiting opposing teams to 23 earned runs in 134 1/3 innings, the bullpen hasn’t lost a decision in 37 games.

Chafin extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 17 1/3 innings with Thursday’s spotless relief outing, while Kimbrel continued his dominance by recording three punchouts in the ninth. Kimbrel has struck out 27 of the previous 51 batters he has faced.