WASHINGTON — The Cubs activated lefty Steven Brault from the COVID-19 related injured list on Wednesday, bolstering a young bullpen that lost its most veteran members at the trade deadline.
“He’s a guy that you feel like you can give multiple innings to,” manager David Ross said before the Cubs’ 3-2 win against the Nationals. “He’s a former starter, knows how to get lefties and righties out, does a really nice job of handling moments. He’s been in almost every situation as a starter, so there’s no situation you feel like you can’t bring him into.”
Brault took over in the seventh inning and threw two scoreless frames.
To make room on the active roster, the Cubs optioned rookie Anderson Espinoza to Triple-A.
At the trade deadline, the Cubs sent out high-leverage relievers David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Chris Martin and Scott Effross . But the Cubs bullpen still entered Wednesday with a 3.71 ERA since the deadline, according to FanGraphs, as the remaining relievers settle into their expanded roles.
Brault, Rowan Wick and Sean Newcomb are the only Cubs relievers who have at least 100 games of major-league experience.
Wick, who was already in a back-end relief role, has become the de facto closer, recording saves in three straight outings last week. On Tuesday, pitching for the first time in five days, Wick ended a streak of 10 games without allowing a run, giving up a pair of homers in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 7-5 extra-innings win.
He bounced back on Wednesday, retiring the side in order to record his eighth save of the season.
“That’s hard to do after a tough one yesterday, coming back, short layoff,” Ross said.
Girardi joins Marquee
Marquee Sports Network announced on Wednesday that former major-league manager and catcher Joe Girardi is joining the network as a game analyst. Girardi, a Peoria, IL native and Northwestern alumnus, spent seven seasons with the Cubs and won three World Series titles with the Yankees in his playing career. His 14-year managerial career included stints with the Marlins, Yankees and Phillies.
Girardi is scheduled to join Jon Sciambi and Jim Deshaies in the booth when the Cubs take on the Brewers at Wrigley Field this weekend. He’s also slated for the Cubs’ three-game series in Miami Sept. 19-21.
Veteran lefty Wade Miley threw 75 pitches in his latest rehab start with Triple-A Iowa, allowing just two hits and one unearned run in five innings Tuesday.
“He’ll get on a plane today and hopefully meet us real soon,” Ross said, adding that he’ll wait to evaluate Miley’s recovery from the outing before determining next steps. “... We’ve got a lot of games coming up. I’m sure we’re gonna need some starting pitching.”
The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in 19 days. They’re scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals next Tuesday.
Two fans banned
Two fans received five-year bans from Nationals Park after a heated exchange with Willson Contreras on Tuesday, the Nationals confirmed.
“If somebody tried to mess up my family, they’re going to [have to go through] me first,” Contreras said in response to the 10th-inning incident, adding that he didn’t want to get into the details of what the fan said. “Whatever they said, it wasn’t healthy. It was not right.”