Joe Nathan set to join Cubs bullpen on Sunday in Milwaukee
The Cubs will have a new reliever in the bullpen prior to Sunday’s finale with the Brewers. Joe Maddon announced Saturday that Joe Nathan will be activated Sunday from the 60-day DL. Nathan is expected to be available in the bullpen.
The Cubs have an open spot on the 40-man roster that Nathan will take. Once Nathan is activated, the Cubs’ 40-man roster will stand at 40 players.
The Cubs have not announced the corresponding roster move to place Nathan on the 25-man roster. The Cubs are currently carrying 13 pitchers (five starters, eight relievers) and 12 position players. The Cubs are expected to send out or place a reliever on the disabled list.
The Cubs signed Joe Nathan to a Major League contract in May and immediately placed him on the 60-day DL as he worked his way back from a second Tommy John surgery.
Nathan started his rehab assignment on June 23 with Double-A Tennessee.
Nathan made seven appearances out of the Smokies’ pen and was 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.45 WHIP. Nathan allowed two runs on three hits (two solo home runs) with no walks and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
Nathan was transferred to Triple-A Iowa on July 14. Nathan pitched in four games with Iowa, last appearing on Wednesday. Nathan was charged with two runs on no hits with five walks and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.
Nathan’s last outing with Iowa was by far his worst of the 11 games he pitched in between Double- and Triple-A. Nathan retired the first batter he faced before walking the bases loaded. Two of the three batters he walked scored.
In 11 appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Nathan completed 9 1/3 innings and was charged with four runs, all earned, on three hits, five walks, a HBP and nine strikeouts (3.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP).
“The velocity is solid and the break has gotten better on the breaking ball, better form on the breaking ball,” Maddon said to the beat writers on Saturday. “He did his 30 days, and it sounds like he’s ready to rock and roll and he’ll be here.”
“If Joe comes up and he’s ready to roll, all of a sudden we get an experienced guy who can do those things earlier in the game, or you could pop Strop in there. We have to see what Joe looks like. I would bet that whatever he’s been throwing, it’s going to be even a little more once he gets here with the adrenaline pumping and back in the big leagues, all that kind of good stuff.”
Joe Nathan’s fastball was in the 91-92 mph range during his time with Double-A Tennessee. Nathan topped out at 93 mph with Triple-A Iowa. Nathan featured a mid-80s slider and a changeup during his rehab assignment.