CJ Edwards Set to Return? (Update-Pitching in Surprise on 23rd)

CJ Edwards Set to Return? (Update-Pitching in Surprise on 23rd)
Roger C. Hoover/Tennessee Smokies

C.J. Edwards and I don't have a lot of things in common, but we both seem to have a late night Netflix addiction.


That problem does have some advantages when Edwards tweeted this out just a few minutes later.

 

C.J. Edwards has not pitched in a game since April 20. He might be set to return to pitch in a game just over three months after being shut down. Edwards returning to game action would be a huge boost to the farm system that is short on pitching prospects. The Cubs are lacking high end pitching talent, and Edwards is the Cubs clear cut top pitching prospect.

His slight build has given concerns about to handle a starter's workload. The fact that he suffered a shoulder injury did little to ease those concerns. The Cubs are clearly concerned about that given that it is in question what role C.J. Edwards would return to:

The Cubs haven’t decided if Edwards – who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs around 165 pounds – should be eased back in a bullpen role.

“We’re still kind of going back and forth on that,” Madison said. “Right now, the plan is to go back as a starter, but we’ll see. Because he missed so many innings, it might be better to keep him regimented on that starting rotation. That way, you can control his innings a little bit more. But we’re still talking through that and we’ll figure that out as he gets closer.”

The Cubs ramped up C.J. Edwards throwing program starting in early June after a clean MRI.

The Chicago Cubs got good news regarding top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards when his latest MRI on his right shoulder came up clean.

“It was positive,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to ramp up his throwing progression now and get him back towards game action.”

There is even some question as to what does this tweet from C.J. Edwards even mean. He has been on a throwing program for months now with a target date following the All-Star break as loose timetable. Could Edwards simply be returning to throwing off a mound? That seems unlikely. Is Edwards going to throw in an Arizona rookie league game first? That certainly seems like a decent guess. July 23rd would put him right on that post All-Star break schedule.

The larger question would be when does he return to game action back in Tennessee. I am not certain we can know that, but Edwards return would be a huge boost to a Smokies rotation that has been dealing with injuries for most of the year. The Smokies had two of the Cubs top pitching prospects (C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson) along with some other interesting pitching prospects acquired in trades last year (Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro). Each has missed time in the Smokies rotation that is slowly returning to health with Pierce Johnson's return a couple weeks ago.

Edwards return might have some interesting ramifications for other Cubs prospects, specifically Jorge Soler. The Cubs front office likes players to get playoff experience when possible, and the Cubs have been known to promote top prospects to teams in playoff chases (last year's strengthening of the Daytona roster as just an example). The Smokies are currently in a second half tie with the Birmingham Barons. A healthy C.J. Edwards will certainly bolster the odds of Tennessee remaining in the hunt for a playoff spot. That might remove some of the pressure to promote Jorge Soler and or Addison Russell to AAA at the end of the season (Iowa currently sits a half game out of first place in their division as well).

Update-It appears as though it is indeed a return to game action. C.J. Edwards will pitch first for the Cubs rookie league team on July 23rd.

(h/t for Matt Clapp @TheBlogfines for digging up this tweet)

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