Cubs put reliever Michael Fulmer on IL with strained right forearm

The move opened a spot on the active roster for left-hander Jordan Wicks, who started Saturday against the Pirates.

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Cubs right-hander Michael Fulmer has been dealing with discomfort in his throwing arm on and off for a while.

Cubs right-hander Michael Fulmer has been dealing with discomfort in his throwing arm on and off for a while.

Erin Hooley/AP

PITTSBURGH — Cubs reliever Michael Fulmer had been dealing with discomfort in his right forearm for a while, and the team successfully had managed his rest — until recently.

‘‘We just felt like we hit a wall,’’ pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said before the Cubs’ 10-6 victory Saturday against the Pirates. ‘‘We needed to kind of give it some time here.’’

The Cubs put Fulmer on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Friday, with a strained right forearm. The move cleared a spot on the active roster for the Cubs to call up left-hander Jordan Wicks, who made his major-league debut Saturday.

The Cubs plan to have Fulmer undergo imaging in the next couple of days. But manager David Ross said he hopes that, with rest, Fulmer will bounce back by the end of the IL stint.

‘‘Trying to be cautious,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Something pops up, and you want to make sure we’re giving it the right amount of rest and not risking further injury.’’

The imaging likely will shed more light on what exactly is causing Fulmer’s flare-ups. Hottovy said that before the Cubs played the Mets this month, Fulmer’s arm was bothering him enough that the team built in extra rest for him.

He didn’t pitch in the series against the Mets, which led into the Cubs’ first day off in 16 days, then pitched in back-to-back games in Toronto.

‘‘It wasn’t something we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, if we pitch him, we’re in trouble,’ ’’ Hottovy said. ‘‘It was stuff we were monitoring. It’s no different than what we do with a lot of guys. But he’s been grinding for a few weeks.’’

Fulmer has been pitching big innings for the Cubs. As Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr. and Julian Merryweather have claimed back-end bullpen roles, Fulmer has served as a fourth higher-leverage arm.

‘‘The thing we’re gonna miss about [Fulmer] is just how well he handled coming in with traffic,’’ Ross said.

Fulmer has stranded 81% of the runners he has inherited this season, well above the major-league average.

‘‘What he’s done, it’s a testament to the work he’s put in to this point,’’ Hottovy said. ‘‘But now you come back to: ‘All right, who’s going to step up? Who’s going to have the opportunity coming in some of those same situations and keep us in ballgames?’ ’’

Left-hander Drew Smyly joining the bullpen from the rotation helps replace the veteran presence Fulmer usually provides. Daniel Palencia has gained more trust lately in high-leverage situations, and Hayden Wesneski matches up well against right-handed hitters.

Injury update

Right-hander Nick Burdi has been diagnosed with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. The Cubs plan to re-evaluate him after a few more days of rest.

Burdi has been on the IL since having an appendectomy in May. The Cubs sent him to Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment this month, but they paused it when he started feeling discomfort in the elbow.

Burdi has had Tommy John surgery twice.

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