Chicago Cubs News: Justin Steele lands on the IL, Miguel Amaya returns, and more

Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Chicago Cubs place starting pitcher Justin Steele on the 15-Day IL

Prior to the Chicago Cubs' 6-0 loss to the San Diego Padres, the team provided clarity on the status of starting pitcher Justin Steele. Steele was placed on the 15-Day IL with a mild forearm strain and will miss his next two scheduled starts.

In his place, Hayden Wesneski will move back to the rotation. Wesneski replaced Steele on Wednesday and was effective as he allowed 1 run in 3.2 innings pitched while striking out 4. Wesneski was initially recalled to aid the struggling Cubs' bullpen but the team still projects him as a starting pitcher for the long term.

Chicago Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya recalled from Triple-A Iowa

In an interesting move, the Chicago Cubs recalled catching prospect Miguel Amaya from Triple-A Iowa as the corresponding move to Justin Steele being placed on the IL.

Amaya impressed during his initial stint at the Major League level earlier this season while Yan Gomes was in concussion protocol and has been raking with the Iowa Cubs since then. In 60 plate appearances with the I-Cubs, Amaya is slashing .313/.450/.479 with a 141 wRC+.

Amaya has reclaimed the status of being the Cubs' long-term answer at the catching position and the move on Saturday could be the beginning of the transition. Ironically, Amaya's ascension may mirror the ascension of Willson Contreras during the 2016 season. The Cubs carried three catchers on their roster for the duration of the second half of the 2016 season and Contreras' arrival meant less playing time for then-backup catcher David Ross. Ross, now the manager of the Cubs, may have a similar fate for Tucker Barnhart.

Chicago Cubs lineup construction

This was the lineup that Chicago Cubs manager David Ross penciled in for the team's start against Yu Darvish and the Padres on Saturday night.

Cubs' catcher Tucker Barnhart has a wRC+ of 27 this season and Miles Mastrobuoni is not far behind with a mark of 38 on the season. While some teams operate with the idea of having a second leadoff hitter in the ninth spot, Ross is essentially guaranteeing two consecutive outs in innings where Barnhart is the first hitter up.

For a Cubs' team that has struggled with scoring runs this season and in a time where the designated hitter is a part of National League play, it is unacceptable for Ross to construct that type of lineup.

Christopher Morel is struggling after hot start

Chicago Cubs super utility player Christopher Morel has struggled considerably over the course of the past two weeks. In 38 plate appearances since May 20, Morel is slashing .171/.237/.457 with a wRC+ of 84. The power is still present given Morel's .286 ISO rating but his strikeout percentage is 39.6% during that same timespan with a BABIP .176.

Essentially, Morel's at-bats truly have only two outcomes with the result being a home run or a strikeout. Morel was unlikely to continue the torrid home run pace that he was on when he was first recalled from Iowa and now, we may be seeing exactly why the Cubs felt he needed to start the season in Triple-A.

Morel will need to prove that he can do this season what he couldn't do last season and that is make the adjustment back. Major League pitchers have adjusted their strategy when facing Morel and it has worked. If Morel is unable to make the adjustment back, we may be seeing the limitations that will prevent him from being an everyday player.

Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Caleb Kilian finding success

Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Caleb Kilian appears to be figuring things out with the Iowa Cubs. Kilian has posted a 3.60 ERA over his last 6 starts. Kilian's strikeout percentage over the course of those 6 starts is 21.9% against a 7.8% walk rate. While numbers do not represent Kilian regaining top pitching prospect status, they do suggest that he is in the middle of making the corrections needed in order to be successful at the Major League level.

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