The Cubs announced that they had activated Marcus Stroman from the COVID-19 injured list. He’ll take the ball tonight against the Diamondbacks, right-handed Michael Rucker landing on the 15-day disabled list due to a turf toe. Stroman hadn’t counted on the 40-man roster while on COVID IL, and the Cubs freed up a spot for his reinstatement by moving the starter Alec Moulins from IL of 15 days to IL of 60 days.
Stroman signed a three-year, $71 million bond as part of an aggressive Cubs offseason. He made five starts with his new team, throwing 26 1/3 innings 5.13 ERA. Stroman’s generally excellent ground ball rate dropped to a more ordinary 45.6% early on, but that’s probably not much more than a sample. The 31-year-old’s speed, strike and walk numbers are all in line with their 2021 ratings, although he has also seen a drop in swing strikes.
Either way, Stroman returns to win the ball back every five days from skipper David Ross. He will be joined in the rotation by Kyle Hendrickssignatory out of season Drew Smyly, Wade Miley and justin steel. That group looked like a concern heading into the season, and the Cubs rank in the league’s bottom ten in rotational ERA (4.45) and strikeout rate (18.5%), though they were one of the top ten groups to generate grounders (46.1%).
Mills was an important member of the rotation last season, starting 20 of his 32 appearances. He posted a 5.07 ERA but threw strikes and induced groundstrokes on more than half of the balls hit against him, positioning him as a return option in the rotation. He opened the season on the injured list with a lower back injury, and he also battled a quad issue.
Today’s transfer is largely a procedural decision, as it rules out Mills for 60 days from opening day, not today. He can’t return to the majors until the first week of June, which didn’t seem likely anyway given he has yet to begin a minor league rehab assignment. Mills recently launched a live batting practice, however, the first steps in a new build-up program.