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Chicago Cubs must determine how to allocate innings on the final 14 days as Keegan Thompson nears a go back to the pitching staff

MIAMI Because the innings in the 2022 season continue steadily to dwindle, the Chicago Cubs face decisions.

Only 15 games remain following the Cubs opened a three-game series Monday night in Miami. The team is plotting how exactly to fall into line the rotation for the ultimate stretch and determining the simplest way to allocate innings.

The Cubs used five pitchers in a 10-3 loss to the Marlins at LoanDepot Park. A 2-0 lead in the 3rd inning, thanks to Christopher Morels solo homer and Ian Happs RBI double, was quickly erased once the Marlins scored five runs in underneath of the inning.

Right-hander Keegan Thompson (low back tightness) is likely to be activated from the injured list within the next couple of days, manager David Ross said Monday. Thompson will undoubtedly be used from the bullpen, at the very least initially. Ross noted that the Cubs must find out another moving parts, in both rotation and the bullpen, for a corresponding roster move.

Its among the trickiest components for the Cubs to work through because they close out the growing season, already eliminated from postseason contention. They need Thompson to complete strong and increase his 104 big-league innings while also ensuring he reaches the offseason healthy.

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Pitching coach Tommy Hottovys goal would be to get right-hander Hayden Wesneski a minumum of one more start and re-evaluate the problem, possibly seeking to use him in a piggyback setup. Wesneski limited the Colorado Rockies to 1 run and three hits in seven innings Saturday in his first major-league start. He didnt walk an improved and struck out seven.

I understand we’ve some moving parts with regards to how were attempting to disseminate the workload for everyone over those last little while, Hottovy said Monday. Were just attempting to be creative about how exactly we piece this together and make certain were smart.

Left-hander Justin Steele (low back strain) continues to be not fully healthy as time works against him to obtain back to game action. Steele, who hasnt pitched for the Cubs since Aug. 26, is likely to throw a bullpen session through the seven-game trip to Miami and Pittsburgh.

The Cubs and Steele must balance what’s smart and realistic in a potential return. Steele has told the Cubs he really wants to have yet another big-league outing prior to the offseason, and Hottovy didnt eliminate that possibility.

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However, Steele must check plenty of boxes, Hottovy said, before a return involves fruition. Apart from how Steele feels physically after and during his bullpen sessions, the info the Cubs collect will show if the metrics align with when he was healthy.

If the Cubs see more cut or run in his stuff, backed by the info recorded, it typically indicates something still isnt right with a pitchers body in cases like this Steeles back.

Be sure that were in an excellent place so were like, OK, were likely to take action, Hottovy said. Because we realize what hes done. We realize the workload, but again theres that mental side, like, OK, Im healthy, Personally i think good, I could go compete. … Theres lots of ways we are able to kind of patch together that the other day of the growing season.

Were just attempting to rack up good days in a row not two steps forward, one step back.

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The Cubs could have a lot of multi-inning relief options with Thompson, Adbert Alzolay and, based on how they employ him, Wesneski. In addition they want to continue steadily to look at their less experienced relievers. At some time, the Cubs must decide which in-game work to prioritize.

Cubs starter Wade Miley, second from left, stands on the mound with the bases loaded through the third inning contrary to the Marlins on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

For the series contrary to the Marlins, the Cubs are starting left-hander Wade Miley who allowed seven runs (three earned) in three innings Monday right-hander Adrian Sampson on Tuesday and left-hander Drew Smyly on Wednesday. They havent announced the way the rotation will align for the four-game series contrary to the Pirates.

It remains unclear if shortstop Nico Hoerner or catcher Willson Contreras will rejoin the lineup through the trip. Hoerner remains sidelined after an MRI the other day showed a mild to moderate strain in his right triceps.

A left ankle sprain continues to frustrate Contreras, who still feels the consequences of his injury when he runs. While running in a straight line felt fine Sunday, Ross said Contreras was challenged by making turns on the bases.

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Contreras declined to talk Monday, saying he’ll consult with reporters once he could be back the lineup. Contreras, a free of charge agent following the season, hasnt played since Aug. 30 in Toronto.

Guys which are injured prefer to play baseball, Ross said. You start to see the result in sight and I believe some personalities are like, whats the idea of rushing back, plus some personalities are like, Im pissed Im hurt, I would like to finish, I love playing baseball. I believe Wilson falls for the reason that second group of Im looking to get back, but additionally I could only achieve this much on my ankle.

Finished . concerning the end of the growing season and where were at in the standings, it doesnt create a large amount of sense to rush anything or play at 85% to 90%.

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