4:09pm: The Cubs have officially selected Newcomb’s contract heading into Game 2. Infielder David Bote was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to clear the necessary active roster spot.
11:22am: Prior to today’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, the Cubs announced some roster shuffling to reporters, including Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago. Left-hander Matt Dermody has had his contract selected and will serve as the club’s “27th man” during the twin bill. Fellow lefty Sean Newcomb will also have his contract selected to start the second game. Neither player was on the 40-man roster coming into today, though the trade deadline moves left the Cubs at 37, meaning no corresponding moves will be required. However, a spot on the active roster will need to be created for Newcomb between games.
Newcomb, 29, was once a highly-touted prospect with Atlanta and pitched well for them over the 2017-2019 stretch. In that time, he threw 332 1/3 innings with a 3.87 ERA, 23% strikeout rate, 11.6% walk rate and 44.7% ground ball rate. However, he had a miserable 2020 then was moved to the bullpen in 2021 but hasn’t really recaptured his previous form since. Atlanta designated him for assignment in April and then flipped him to the Cubs, who were surely hoping for a bounceback.
He didn’t last very long with the Cubs, getting designated for assignment and then outrighted after clearing waivers. Since then, he’s been pitching well in the minors and getting stretched out in the process. He’s thrown 24 Triple-A innings with a 3.38 ERA, 30.7% strikeout rate and 44.9% ground ball rate, though with a scary 17.8% walk rate. His outings have gradually increased as the season has gone on, logging four innings in each of his past two appearances.
It’s possible that this is just a spot start for Newcomb to help cover the doubleheader. He’s out of options and can’t be sent back down to the minors afterwards. Though if he hangs onto a roster spot, he can be retained beyond this campaign via arbitration.
Dermody, 32, has 29 games of MLB experience under his belt, most of those coming with the Blue Jays in 2017. Since then, he has just a single big league appearance, which came with the Cubs back in 2020. He spent last year with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball before returning to sign a minor league deal with the Cubs in January. Though primarily a reliever for most of his career, the Cubs have been giving him some length in the minors this year. He’s made 13 starts and seven relief appearances in Triple-A on the season, logging 79 1/3 innings with a 3.74 ERA, 20.3% strikeout rate, 5.2% walk rate and 51.2% ground ball rate. Unlike Newcomb, he does have options and could be sent back down to serve as depth in Triple-A.