CINCINNATI -- Cubs sidearmer Steve Cishek has made more appearances than any other reliever in baseball over the past two seasons. The right-hander prides himself on being trustworthy and available for manager Joe Maddon, especially when the bullpen is short-handed.
Prior to Saturday's game against the Reds, the Cubs placed Cishek on the 10-day injured list with inflammation in his left hip -- a minor issue, but one that has been troubling the reliever for at least a few outings. With Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler and Kyle Ryan already missing from the bullpen, Cishek did not mention the injury until Friday night.
"Because of everything else that's been going on, he did not want to own up to it, which is typical of him," Maddon said on Saturday. "It was, I guess, bothering him enough last night to say something late, and then we had to do something. But I think if the rest of the group had been well, he might've said something earlier."
With Cishek sidelined, Chicago recalled right-hander Dillon Maples from Triple-A Iowa to assume the vacated spot in the bullpen. Maples joins Rowan Wick, Duane Underwood Jr. and Alec Mills as a quartet of rookies in the Cubs' relief corps. The rest of the group consists of Pedro Strop, Derek Holland, Tyler Chatwood and David Phelps.
Strop and Chatwood are the only active relievers left from the Cubs' Opening Day bullpen.
"Look, it's time for some of the other guys to really step up," Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. "That's what we're about. We're about next man in and giving guys opportunities and thriving in those opportunities."
The good news is that Chicago should be able to piece its bullpen back together soon.
Kimbrel (10-day IL with right knee inflammation) remains in Chicago to focus on his rehab, but the closer will join the team for its upcoming series against the Phillies (Tuesday-Thursday) and will likely throw a bullpen session in Philadelphia. Kintzler (10-day IL, right pectoral inflammation) threw off a mound with no issues on Saturday. Kimbrel and Kintzler are eligible for activation on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Ryan was placed on MLB's bereavement list on Friday, and Maddon said the lefty will rejoin the team during the Phillies series as well.
Cishek worked one inning in Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park, allowing one run to up his season ERA to 3.58 in 54 appearances. The 33-year-old righty leads the Majors with 134 appearances over the past two seasons, posting a 2.76 ERA in that span. Over his past six outings, Cishek allowed seven runs on eight hits, including three homers, in four innings.
Maddon said the possible silver lining to the series of setbacks will be that some key members of the bullpen will have some rest ahead of the stretch run, and potentially the playoffs.
"You're resting some people with the six to seven weeks left in the season," Maddon said. "That could be the benefit, is what happens for 'Shek and Kimbrel and Kintzler. They get this week to 10 days of rest. Obviously, I'd prefer it not happening. We'd all prefer that you have these guys."
In the meantime, the Cubs have growing confidence in the pitchers they draw out of the Triple-A pool.
"Absolutely," Hottovy said. "It's a credit to our pro scouting group and our guys in Minor League development that give us these options when we're going through a spell without three or four of your most reliable relievers. ... We have a good group. The names are different, but we trust a lot of the guys that are out there."