Cubs Select Matt Swarmer, Place Jonathan Villar on IL

Cubs Select Matt Swarmer, Place Jonathan Villar on IL

May 30: The Cubs announced Swarmer’s move as part of a larger series of deals, with various reporters relaying the slate, including Mark Gonzales. To make room on the 40-man roster for Swarmer, Ethan Robert was transferred to IL 60 days. To make room on the active list, Jonathan Villar was placed on the 10-day IL after sustaining a mouth injury during training. Chicago Tribune’s Meghan Montemurro provides additional context, saying that Villar had an exercise band in his mouth, suffering from an injury that will require extensive dental work.

Otherwise, Anderson Espinoza was recalled as the 27th man for today’s doubleheader. Nelson Velasquezwhose recall was reported yesterday, has also been added.

As for Roberts, he was placed on the IL on May 2 with shoulder inflammation and will not be able to return until early July. Although there is no timetable for his return, it looks like the club aren’t expecting him before, based on today’s deal.

May 29: The Cubs will select the right-handed pitching contract Matt Grouilleurby Chicago Tribune’s Meghan Montemurro. He will start the first game of tomorrow’s doubleheader against the Brewers, making his major league debut. Swarmer is not on the club’s 40-man roster, meaning a corresponding move will be needed at some point between now and the start of the game.

It was reported earlier today that the Brewers will promote Ethan Small to make his major league debut in the same game, making it a rookie battle at tomorrow afternoon’s Memorial Day tilt. For those who like factoids, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers indicates this will be the first time the Brewers have been involved in a game with two starters making their debuts, while the Cubs haven’t done so since 1944.

Swamer, 28, was a 19th-round selection for the Cubs in the 2016 draft. Since then, he’s quietly slipped to the majors without drawing too much attention from prospect evaluators. He never appeared on Baseball America’s list of Chicago’s top farmhands, nor on FanGraphs’ list, although he did earn a brief honorable mention on the FanGraphs list in 2019. There are a few more a year, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen focused his radar on Swarmer, completing his cursor movement.

Last year, between Double-A and Triple-A, Swarmer made 20 starts and four relief appearances, recording 112 2/3 innings with a 4.79 ERA, 25.4% strikeout rate and a walking rate of 7.6%. He seems to have taken a step forward this year, having made five starts and four relief appearances, pitching 39 innings with a 2.08 ERA. He got his strikeouts up to 27.3% but also gets more walks with a 9.1% rate. A BABIP of 0.213 and a strand rate of 82.8% surely help to deflate this ERA somewhat, although there is still a lot to like about its results nonetheless.

The Cubs rotation currently consists of Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, justin steel, Kyle Hendricks and Keegan Thompson. But thanks to tomorrow’s doubleheader and another this Saturday, they are currently playing 11 games in 9 days. It’s possible that Swarmer will stick around for at least a few starts to help the club through this grueling time. They then have a few days off the following week, which should allow them to return to a five-man rotation, although health and performance issues can always change plans quickly.

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