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Notes: Wick (oblique) to IL; Chafin activated

@MLBastian
September 19, 2020

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager David Ross had found a rhythm with his back-end bullpen trio of Jeremy Jeffress, Craig Kimbrel and Rowan Wick. Now, Chicago's relief corps has potentially lost Wick for the season with the playoffs just around the corner. Prior to Saturday's game against the Twins at Wrigley

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager David Ross had found a rhythm with his back-end bullpen trio of Jeremy Jeffress, Craig Kimbrel and Rowan Wick. Now, Chicago's relief corps has potentially lost Wick for the season with the playoffs just around the corner.

Prior to Saturday's game against the Twins at Wrigley Field, the Cubs announced that Wick was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain. While Ross did not provide an estimated timetable for Wick's return, the manager noted that the setback could remove Wick from the postseason equation.

"Yes, it could," Ross said. "Row has been a big part of that bullpen [since] the second half of last year and what he's done for us this year. He's been a lock-down guy in any part on the back-end of games, and has thrown really well. So, yeah, it's a huge loss."

The timing happened to align with the comeback of veteran lefty Andrew Chafin, who was activated from the 10-day IL on Saturday following his bout with a sprained finger on his throwing hand. The Cubs acquired the 30-year-old Chafin from the D-backs prior to the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline.

Wick, 27, shared the closing duties with both Jeffress and Kimbrel, posting a 3.12 ERA with 20 strikeouts against six walks in 17 1/3 innings. Wick finished six games and picked up a save in four, logging a 1.08 ERA in his last nine appearances for the Cubs.

Ross said the oblique injury flared in Wick's most recent outing on Wednesday, when he faced the minimum in the seventh inning of a 3-2 win over Cleveland. The manager planned on sending the righty back out for the eighth, but that was before Wick indicated that he was feeling a "burning sensation" in his left side.

"He got some testing done and it's pretty bad," Ross said.

Utilizing Chafin
One thing that Ross liked about the acquisition of Chafin was it added another reliever who has a wealth of big league experience to lean on.

"It's a guy that's not going to shy away from the moment," Ross said. "The moment is not going to get too big for him, it doesn't feel like. I'm excited to get him out there and watch him pitch."

Chafin posted an 8.10 ERA in 11 appearances earlier this season for Arizona, but he had a 3.46 ERA with 182 strikeouts in 153 1/3 innings across the 2017-19 seasons. For his seven-year MLB career (all with the D-backs), the left-hander has held lefties to a .616 OPS, compared to a .696 OPS for right-handed batters.

Opportunity for Underwood, Adam?
While Chafin gives the Cubs another veteran arm for the bullpen, the loss of Wick could also open up more opportunities for arms like right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. and righty Jason Adam.

Underwood has a 5.40 ERA on the season, but he has gained more trust of late and has thrown 6 2/3 shutout innings in his past seven games. He has 22 strikeouts against five walks in 16 2/3 innings overall. Adam has 18 strikeouts and a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings, including 6 2/3 shutout frames in September.

"Somebody will have to step up. We'll find out who that is," Ross said. "I've got a lot of confidence in a lot of guys down there. Definitely, throughout this shortened season, I've been putting guys in different scenarios and I feel like they've kind of answered the call and pitched well.

Quintana activation looming
Left-hander José Quintana (10-day IL, left lat) completed a 20-pitch simulated game on Saturday without any issues. Ross said there was "good feedback" after the workout, adding that Quintana is on target for activation at some point during the upcoming four-game series in Pittsburgh.

Ross said the plan will be to use Quintana for an inning or two at first, but with the goal of trying to build up his pitch count, if possible.

"If we can build on top of that, great," Ross said. "If not, if we don't have that opportunity ... then he'll just stay a bullpen piece and we'll use him that way. So, there's a lot in the air."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.