Young arms flash promise in victory vs. Twins

Triumvirate of Rodríguez, Heuer, Wick combine for 4 scoreless frames

September 1st, 2021

When the Cubs needed key outs, their bullpen arms got the job done Tuesday night.

Despite being held to three runs against the Twins, the Cubs received three inning-ending double plays to strand runners on the basepaths in a 3-1 win at Target Field. Chicago also got a glimpse at some of the bullpen talent the team could be leaning on moving forward. 

The Cubs received four shutout innings from the likes of rookie Manuel Rodríguez, 25-year-old Codi Heuer and 28-year-old Rowan Wick, who notched his first save of the season.

“The bullpen came in and picked each other up,” Cubs manager David Ross said. ‘I think everybody came in with a little traffic. And we played good defense behind them. The [double plays] were key.”

Rodríguez, who is ranked as the Cubs’ No. 27 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, continued his early career success by inducing two inning-ending double plays to get out of trouble as he threw two scoreless innings in the win.

The right-hander came on in relief of Zach Davies after he threw 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run in his start. Rodríguez inherited runners on first and second base, but needed just four pitches against Luis Arraez to escape the jam and induced a second inning-ending double play in the sixth inning.

Of late, Rodríguez has been one of the Cubs’ more effective arms in his short time in the Majors. The righty has a 2.63 ERA since debuting on July 30. He has given up just one run and two hits over his last 10 2/3 innings.

“I've seen a poise about him,” Ross said of Rodríguez. “Even when he does give up a run or a home run, the demeanor stays the same. He's willing to take the ball in any moment. He's ready. He throws strikes. It's real stuff. He's not afraid to throw his offspeed stuff in any count.”

Ross said using his younger bullpen arms in different scenarios has been a part of their development. Coming into Tuesday, both Rodríguez and Heuer had been used in save situations.

On Tuesday, it was Wick who got his first save opportunity of the season. Wick, who had the start of his season delayed until Aug. 10 due to a left oblique strain, used 10 pitches to collect two strikeouts and set down the Twins’ side in order in the ninth.

“That's as good as he's looked for me in the ninth there. That's as good as he's looked since he's been back,” Ross said of Wick.

Like Rodríguez, Heuer has had a strong start to his brief Cubs career.

Heuer, who threw a scoreless inning and left two runners stranded Tuesday, was acquired in the July 30 trade that also brought second baseman Nick Madrigal to the Cubs and sent Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox.

Since moving over to the North Side, Heuer has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings and he has held hitters to a .196 average to go along with a 1.00 WHIP.

Despite the early flashes of success from the arms that could be future pieces in the Cubs’ bullpen, Ross said he is focused on the present.

“I don't want to judge every night on who's in the future, right? I think those guys tonight did a really nice job,” Ross said. “I don't want these guys to feel like they're trying to make the team for next year every time out. We're trying to win some ballgames, and it was a nice job by them to help us win a ballgame tonight.”