Ben's Brown injury could be a blessing in disguise for the Chicago Cubs

Ben Brown hit the injured list this week, but this could be a good thing for his long-term development
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Chicago Cubs rookie Ben Brown recently became the fifth starting pitcher on the team to hit the injured list this year, but this could be a good thing for the 24-year-old's long-term development.

Aside from a few outings here and there, Brown has been nothing short of excellent for the Cubs this year. After his blow-up outing against the Texas Rangers in the second game of the season, Brown has arguably been the team's most reliable arm next to Shota Imanaga and Javier Assad. His 3.58 ERA and 64 strikeouts are stellar for a first-year pitcher moving in and out of the bullpen.

Ben Brown likely ticketed for the bullpen when he returns from the IL

The bullpen is likely where Brown will land when he returns from what should be a relatively short IL stint. The Cubs are calling it a neck strain, which was worthy of a 15-day IL stint, meaning Brown will not be stretched out for starting duties by the time he comes back.

With Jordan Wicks returning from his own IL stint recently, he will likely be inserted into the starting rotation in Brown's absence. That means unless the team opts to implement a six-man rotation, which they haven't done all season, Brown will more than likely be utilized out of the bullpen when he comes back later this month. This will help the team manage his innings down the stretch, which has already climbed to 55 1/3 on the year. In his professional career, Brown has never exceeded 104 innings pitched so the team will likely look to pump the brakes on his workload moving forward.

Brown will also probably be needed as a reliever anyway, as much of the team's recent struggles have been due to late collapses by high-leverage relievers. Tuesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was a prime example of this, as de facto closer Hector Neris surrendered a walk-off home run in the ninth inning. I don't anticipate him being the closer (although I think he would excel in that role) but Brown can certainly be effective in long-relief and serve as the swingman now that Wicks will slide back into the rotation.