Chris Rusin has been recalled from Iowa by the Chicago Cubs, and reliever Brian Schlitter has been sent down to AAA. Rusin is a left-hander who was competing for the fifth spot in the rotation until the final weeks of Spring Training.
His recall looks to be just the first in what could be a long summer of Rick Renteria and Theo Epstein mixing and matching until they find a pen they feel they can rely on.
Despite all the young and unproven talent in the lineup, the relief corps has been the chief complaint in Chicago in the early going. Last night, “closer” Jose Veras blew his second save opportunity in three chances, and the rest of the pen has had their shaky outings as well.
In 5.2 innings of work so far this year, Schlitter had allowed five base runners and four earned runs while posting a 6.35 ERA. So, how bad has the pen been? That ERA is actually only the third worst among the relief staff. Schlitter got the call to be sent down because he actually has options left — something Veras and James Russell don’t.
#Cubs call up Chris Rusin. Schlitter to Iowa
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 12, 2014
Rusin has mainly worked as a starter, both in the minors and MLB. He has made some relief appearances during three different call-ups with the Cubs, including three bullpen outings a year ago.
It seems unlikely that Rusin is the only move the team will make, if for no other reason than it means the Cubs have three lefties on the relief staff right now (Russell, Wesley Wright, Rusin). More than likely, Rusin will serve as a kind of backup in case Carlos Villanueva can’t go longer than the five innings he lasted in his last start and the Cubs need a reliever to pitch a few innings.
It seems likely that Rusin, or another reliever, will be sent down at the beginning of next week in order to bring up another rightie.