Cubs send Mark Leiter Jr. to minor, call up Locke St. John

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Cubs option 5th starter Leiter, recall Locke St. John originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

MILWAUKEE — Two days before the deadline for reducing MLB rosters back to the (new) standard 26, the Cubs shuffled the pitching staff deck by sending fifth starter Mark Leiter Jr. back to Triple-A Iowa and recalling left-hander Locke St. John from Iowa.

St. John, who was signed as a minor-league free agent Nov. 28, has made seven career relief appearances in the majors, all with the Rangers in 2019, allowing four runs in 6 2/3 innings (5.40 ERA) with five strikeouts and four walks and seven hits allowed.

He spent last season in the Tigers' organization, going 4-0 with a 2.58 in 36 games, including five starts.

"He pitched like almost 50 pitches like three or four days ago," manager David Ross said. "He gives us some length down there. This is a series where an extra left-handed arm makes a lot of sense. These [Brewers] have got a lot of left-handers in the lineup, and this gives us another option to match up."

Leiter, who was signed as a minor-league free agent in December, was called up April 16 when the Cubs first needed a fifth starter, eventually making three starts in that role, along with a one-inning relief appearance Friday night in Milwaukee.

He allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits and seven walks in 10 1/3 innings (7.84 ERA), including just two innings in his last start.

"It's about just getting him back stretched out," Ross said. "We're going to need [another] starter at some point down the road. Getting him back to multiple innings is really all it is. He's thrown the ball well at times and had a couple innings that weren't as clean for him. It's just getting back into his routine and giving him some pointers we think he can improve on,"

Because of two scheduled off days in the coming week, the Cubs have the luxury of choosing to skip the fifth-starter spot until May 10.

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