Cubs Injury News: Codi Heuer expected back as early as June

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Relief depth isn't a major area of concern for the Cubs heading into 2023, but getting a guy with the stuff of Codi Heuer before we even wrap up the first half would be welcome, regardless. And, according to a report from the Sun Times' Maddie Lee, that could become reality this summer as the right-hander continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Heuer, at this point, is on target for a late June/early July return to a big league mound and has spent much of the offseason rehabbing at the team's facilities in Arizona. A key piece of the July 2021 trade that sent Craig Kimbrel across town to the White Sox, Heuer hasn't appeared in a game for the Cubs since the end of that season.

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With folks ready to turn the page on the other piece that came back in that deal, Nick Madrigal, getting a healthy, effective Heuer back would go a long way toward making fans feel like Jed Hoyer got something for his resurgent closer.

As I said, the Cubs are swimming in potential relief options with just over a month until pitchers and catchers report to Mesa - but Heuer is among a handful with top-shelf stuff and the makings of, at the very least, a valuable late-inning weapon, if not a long-term solution in the closer's role.

Looking at his Baseball Savant rankings from 2021, Heuer ranked in the 93rd percentile in barrel rate, 83rd in chase rate, 87th in fastball velocity and 81st in average exit velocity. While his fastball certainly lit up the radar gun, both his slider and change-up were insanely effective, as well, giving him several ways to put away hitters in big spots.

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At 26 years old and with three years of team control left, Heuer could wind up being a huge piece in Chicago's bullpen as they turn the corner on their rebuild and make a return to October. First, of course, he needs to work his way back to the mound - but all signs so far point to that happening early this summer, which bodes well for any potential second-half run.