Injuries & Moves: Leiter lands on IL; Little recalled

June 23rd, 2024

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June 23: RHP (right forearm strain) placed on 15-day injured list; LHP recalled from Triple-A Iowa
The Cubs' bullpen took a hit on Sunday, when Leiter was shelved due to a right forearm strain. He joins fellow relievers Adbert Alzolay (right flexor strain) and Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) -- representing Chicago's main late-inning trio down the stretch last season -- on the IL.

Leiter has a 5.34 ERA in 32 games this season, but the righty's overall numbers have taken a hit in a string of rough outings recently. In his past four appearances, Leiter allowed eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, seeing his ERA rise from 3.20 on the year in that brief span. The righty has 39 strikeouts against 13 walks in 28 2/3 innings on the season.

Little, who was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday, rejoins the Major League bullpen. The 23-year-old lefty has a 4.35 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 17 walks in 20 2/3 innings (23 games) this season for the Cubs.

10-DAY/15-DAY INJURED LIST

RHP (right forearm strain)
Expected return: TBD
The Cubs placed Leiter on the 15-day IL with the forearm strain prior to their game against the Mets on June 23. The move to shelve the right-hander comes after he allowed eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in his previous four appearances, seeing his season ERA climb to 5.34 from 3.20 in that span. Leiter has 39 strikeouts and 13 walks in 28 2/3 innings (32 games) this season for Chicago. (Last updated: June 23)

RHP (neck strain)
Expected return: TBD
Brown was cleared to resume a throwing program on June 18 after follow-up testing revealed a “benign area of concern,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell noted on June 19. Brown and the ballclub sought multiple opinions on the pitcher’s neck injury, which was initially believed to be a stress reaction. Brown has played catch at 90 feet, Counsell said on June 21.

“The initial diagnosis is not something we’re operating under right now, which is good news,” Counsell said on June 19. “So Ben’s really kind of, ‘move forward as tolerated,’ and he’s feeling good. And we think that as this goes, this can move on much more quickly.”

Counsell said that team doctors were “not concerned” after further examining the images taken of Brown. The rookie righty, who is 1-3 this season with a 3.58 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings, was placed on the IL on June 11. (Last updated: June 21)

RHP (right shoulder strain)
Expected return: Late June
Cubs manager Craig Counsell noted on June 19 that Almonte faced hitters in a live batting practice workout on June 18 with High-A South Bend. The manager described the session as going “OK,” adding that the righty would focus on building up strength for now before facing batters or moving on to a Minor League rehab assignment.

Almonte went on the IL on May 11 (retroactive to May 8) with a right shoulder strain. The injury popped up when he did not recover well from his outing on May 7 against the Padres. Almonte, who has a 3.45 ERA over 17 appearances for Chicago so far this season, resumed playing catch on May 21. (Last updated: June 19)

OF (left groin strain)
Expected return: Late July/August
Cubs manager Craig Counsell announced on June 18 that Tauchman was diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of his left groin, requiring the outfielder to be placed on the 10-day IL. Counsell said the early feedback is that Tauchman will likely need a month to heal from the setback.

"He's going to miss significant time," Counsell said.

Tauchman, 33, injured his groin while legging out an infield single in the third inning of the Cubs' 7-6 loss to the Giants on June 17. In 66 games this season, Tauchman has hit .259/.359/.382 with 16 extra-base hits and 33 walks, while moving between all three outfield spots. (Last updated: June 18)

LHP (right oblique strain)
Expected return: July at the earliest
Wicks exited his start against the Cardinals on June 14 after 1 2/3 innings due to the oblique issue. The lefty said he felt “tightness” in his side after throwing a pitch, and it persisted for a couple of pitches in a row, leading to his exit. The Cubs placed him on the injured list on June 15 after he underwent further testing, which revealed a Grade 2 strain, according to manager Craig Counsell.

Wicks’ start against St. Louis was his first since April 23 and his second appearance after returning from the 15-day IL on June 7 after dealing with a left forearm strain. (Last updated: June 16)

7-DAY MINOR LEAGUE INJURED LIST

RHP (right lat strain)
Expected return: July
After a recent checkup in Chicago, the 22-year-old Horton (MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 Cubs prospect and the No. 17 prospect on the Top 100 list) was diagnosed with a right lat strain, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said on June 4. The current plan calls for Horton to be shut down from throwing for three to four weeks while rehabbing at the Cubs’ complex in Arizona.

Horton, who was Chicago’s first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in the 2022 Draft, exited his May 29 start for Triple-A Iowa after logging 20 pitches in one inning (two runs allowed) against Louisville. The righty has posted a 7.50 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 18 innings (five starts) for Iowa, following a four-start stint (1.10 ERA with 18 strikeouts and two walks in 16 1/3 innings) with Double-A Tennessee to begin the season. (Last updated: June 4)

60-DAY IL

RHP (right flexor strain)
Expected return: TBD
Alzolay moved his rehab to Arizona on May 26. Around the same time, the right-hander was shut down from throwing after seeking a second opinion on his right flexor strain, which is similar to an issue the reliever dealt with last September. He was transferred to the 60-day IL on June 2. Alzolay's progress has remained "fairly slow," Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said on June 17.

Alzolay was placed on the 15-day IL on May 13 with the injury, which flared during his outing on May 12. In 18 games this season, Alzolay has a 4.67 ERA with 13 strikeouts, six walks and six homers allowed in 17 1/3 innings. (Last updated: June 17)

RHP (rib stress fracture)
Expected return: July
Merryweather threw a 26-pitch bullpen session in Arizona on June 14, after he resumed playing catch on May 21. Cubs manager Craig Counsell said on June 16 that the expectation is that the reliever is on track to return around the All-Star break. Imaging in April revealed that Merryweather was dealing with a rib stress fracture in his back and the righty was placed on the 15-day IL on April 7 (retroactive to April 6). He was transferred to the 60-day IL on April 17. Merryweather has a 1.93 ERA with six strikeouts and two walks through four outings (4 2/3 innings) this season. (Last updated: June 16)

RHP (right shoulder strain)
Expected return: July
As of June 7, Kilian had resumed throwing bullpen sessions at the team’s complex in Arizona. The right-hander threw a 32-pitch bullpen on June 14.

Kilian left his March 5 start against the Royals in the third inning before an MRI exam revealed a strain of the teres major in his throwing shoulder. The 27-year-old pitcher -- acquired from the Giants as part of the Kris Bryant trade in 2021 -- was projected to return to game action around July at the time of the injury. In '23, Kilian made three appearances for the Cubs and went 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 120 1/3 innings with Triple-A Iowa. He was placed on the 60-day IL on March 28. (Last updated: June 15)