Report: Cubs Calling up LHP Tim Collins to Fill Jon Lester’s Roster Spot

With Jon Lester on the injured list with a hamstring issue suffered while rounding third during Monday’s home opener, the Cubs are in need of a pitcher to fill his spot. Rather than turn to flame-throwing righty James Norwood or control-challenged fan favorites like Dakota Mekkes and Dillon Maples, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers says the choice is going to be lefty Tim Collins.

No relation to the refreshing gin cocktail, the diminutive Collins (he’s listed at 5′ 7″ and 170 lbs, but that’s soaking wet standing on a phone book) was signed by the Cubs at the end of spring training when they designated Brian Duensing for assignment. It was a major league deal, so Collins is already on the 40-man roster and won’t need to be added via a corresponding move.

The 29-year-old debuted with the Royals back in 2011 and averaged nearly 70 appearances per season through his first three seasons. But the injury bug bit him hard and he underwent Tommy John surgeries in both 2015 and 2016, missing both seasons and throwing only 17.1 innings in the minors in 2017. Collins came up with the Nationals and threw 22.2 innings over 38 appearances last season, displaying a cutter that he hadn’t used previously.

Collins has a low-90’s fastball with the aforementioned cutter, setting them off with a changeup and a slow curve. The latter has been his best pitch as a big leaguer, though he’s pitched so little in recent seasons that it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions.

He’s looked good in limited action so far with Triple-A Iowa, striking out three and walking one over 2.2 innings. Collins isn’t a LOOGY but he’s not a long reliever by any stretch, so this move makes it pretty clear that the Cubs are planning to start Tyler Chatwood and/or go with Johnny Wholestaff this Sunday in what would have been Lester’s start.

It’s always interesting to get a look at a new pitcher, but let’s just hope Collins’ debut comes in a very low-leverage situation after the Cubs hang a big number on either the Pirates or Angels.

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