Cubs To Place Justin Steele, Adrian Sampson On Restricted List

The Cubs will be traveling to Toronto for a three-game series that begins tomorrow, though left-hander Justin Steele and right-hander Adrian Sampson will not be making the trip. They will instead be placed on the restricted list, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago. That’s standard procedure for players unvaccinated against COVID-19, as current health restrictions prevent such individuals from crossing the American-Canadian border.

Normally, the club wouldn’t be able to make corresponding moves right away, as league rules dictate starting pitchers aren’t eligible to be replaced until four days after they last pitched in these circumstances. Sampson started today’s game, though Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune tweets that he will indeed be eligible to be replaced due to having thrown less than four innings today. Steele, on the other hand, threw 5 1/3 innings on Friday, meaning the Cubs should be able to bring in someone else to take his spot by Tuesday.

Although no moves have been made official just yet, Montemurro relays that left-hander Brendon Little and right-hander Jeremiah Estrada are with the team. Neither are currently on the club’s 40-man roster, but they will likely be added as COVID “substitutes” and subsequently removed after the series without having to be exposed to waivers.

The 26-year-old Little was selected by the Cubs 27th overall in the 2017 draft. That high draft selection got him onto Baseball America’s list of top prospects in Chicago’s system in 2018 and 2019, though he’s since lost his spot on that list. This year, he’s thrown 39 Triple-A innings with a 4.15 ERA, 23.8% strikeout rate, 11.6% walk rate and 62.6% ground ball rate.

Estrada, 23, was a sixth-round pick in 2017. He’s spanned three levels this year, from High-A to Triple-A, faring well at each stop. Through 48 1/3 combined innings for the season, he has a 1.30 ERA with an incredible 40.4% strikeout rate, along with a 10.4% walk rate.

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