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Craig Kimbrel, back-to-back this weekend at Iowa? Call-up to Cubs seemingly drawing near

After the Cubs’ bullpen took a loss Friday for the second time in four games, fans may or may not have filed out of Wrigley Field silently chanting Kimbrel’s name to themselves.

Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel on the day he signed with the Cubs.
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The bullpen was responsible for the Cubs’ 5-4 loss Friday to the Mets, with Brad Brach surrendering the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.

Only a few days after White Sox hotshot Eloy Jimenez went bombs away against Pedro Strop in an instant Crosstown Showdown classic, it expanded a hovering cloud of missed opportunities for the Cubs in 2019.

It would be a stretch — but only a slight one — to say Cubs fans filed out of Wrigley Field silently chanting the name of Craig Kimbrel to themselves.

But Kimbrel, the recently signed closer who’s getting ready at Class AAA Iowa, entered the weekend hoping to pitch in back-to-back games. That would be considered a significant step in getting one of the elite relievers in baseball ready for his Cubs debut.

“There’s a chance that if [Friday] goes well, we’ll talk about a back-to-back on Saturday, yes,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said.

Hoyer also said there’s still some work to be done in getting Kimbrel ‘‘built up’’ for his first big-league action since the World Series last season. Kimbrel, speaking with the media in Des Moines, didn’t disagree.

‘‘I’m ready,’’ the fireballing right-hander said. ‘‘I’m ready to do it, but I have to listen to myself, listen to my body. This isn’t about the next couple of games before the [All-Star] break. This is about after the break and into the postseason.’’

Entering Friday, Kimbrel had made only one appearance at Iowa, lasting eight pitches. Still, he emphasized upon signing with the Cubs two weeks ago that he had been throwing seriously on his own since players with contracts reported to spring training.

Will Kimbrel join the Cubs before the All-Star break? Might he arrive before the end of this homestand?

The sooner he gets here, the sooner the chants can become real.