Chicago Cubs bullpen takes another blow with Michael Fulmer returning to the injured list – Boston Herald

Right-hander Michael Fulmer’s return to the bullpen was short-lived.

The Chicago Cubs put Fulmer on the 15-day injured list Saturday with a right forearm strain, the same injury that sidelined him two weeks before he was activated Monday. He recorded the save in their 5-4 victory Monday over the Colorado Rockies, however, Fulmer didn’t bounce back well from the outing, which saw a velocity drop against the four batters he faced.

Fulmer won’t be eligible to come back until the final day of the regular season. The Cubs recalled right-hander Daniel Palencia, who had been optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Friday for Marcus Stroman.

“Just hoping we can calm that thing down and get him rested,” manager David Ross said of Fulmer’s arm. “It’s a tough loss. He’s somebody who’s been really important to our success down there and closed out that game in Colorado for us but wasn’t able to recover as well as he should. Getting to the back end of the season, it’s tough when guys are banged up.”

There will be more pressure on the back end of the bullpen that is now without Fulmer and Adbert Alzolay, who played catch before Saturday’s game. Alzolay (right forearm strain) can’t be activated until Sept. 25. The Cubs could potentially have other options to cycle through the bullpen in the next two weeks. Right-hander Nick Burdi and left-hander Brandon Hughes pitch in their next rehab games with Iowa on Saturday night. Right-hander Ben Brown has also been in the bullpen at Triple A since returning from his left lat injury.

Brown needs to get comfortable with a new role after starting all season and getting back into the flow after returning from his injury. In five relief appearances, Brown has surrendered three runs in six innings, though all of them came in one outing. He has walked seven and struck out seven. Brown tallied three strikeouts in two perfect innings during his last appearance Friday.

“He continues to grow in his return from the lat injury so we’re excited about the possibilities,” vice president of player development Jared Banner said Saturday. “He has a power of fastball and can really spin a breaking ball as well. So when you can do those things, you have a chance to get some guys out.”

The Cubs have relied on their minor leaguers’ development over the course of the season to provide big-league depth and step into important roles in the thick of their postseason race. Left-hander Jordan Wicks, who starts Sunday’s series finale, catcher Miguel Amaya, lefty reliever Luke Little, right-hander Daniel Palencia and outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong all began the season at Double-A Tennessee or lower.

“My first thought is, wow, we have such an awesome minor-league staff, and they do an excellent job every day of coming to work and making sure these guys get a little bit better,” Banner said. “Seeing these guys out on the field, helping us in a pennant race is absolute fun.”

The Cubs believe there is value in prospects and younger players being on the major-league roster and in the clubhouse regardless of playing time, which has yielded limited plate appearances during their September playoff push. Alexander Canario has appeared in only one game since the Cubs promoted him Sept. 1, making his MLB debut as a pinch hitter Sept. 6 against San Francisco Giants closer Camilo Doval.

“Just being around so many professionals that have been doing it for so long, they know how to prepare for a game, they know how to prepare on both sides of the ball,” Banner said. “He’s going to learn through osmosis, just being around and picking their brains and in the middle of the race, watching the game. So it’d be good experience.”

Canario made his season debut in mid-June as he worked back from left shoulder and left ankle surgeries following his winter ball injuries in October. Canario is slated to get more at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. He is among the eight players the Cubs are planning to send to the AFL, which begins Oct. 2. He will be joined by outfielder Kevin Alcantara, infielder James Triantos, left-hander Adam Laskey and right-handers Nick Hull, Tyler Santana, Adam Kachmar and José Romero.


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