Carl Edwards' DL stint will test Cubs bullpen, but Yu Darvish on the mend

The Cubs’ relief upon learning Wednesday that Yu Darvish has no structural damage to his right triceps was tempered when Carl Edwards Jr. was diagnosed with inflammation in his right shoulder that could sideline him for at least three weeks.

“It’s a big miss,” manager Joe Maddon said before Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates. “There are guys there to fill the spot, (but) CJ is such a high-end performer you hate missing him.”

Since becoming a permanent member of the bullpen in 2016, the club has been careful to avoid using Edwards on consecutive days. When Maddon wanted to use Edwards for a second inning Tuesday night, the right-hander told pitching coach Jim Hickey he felt discomfort.

Edwards, who has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, quickly left the clubhouse Tuesday night, and an MRI subsequently revealed the inflammation.

Without Edwards, who has a 2.88 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 innings while limiting opposing batters to a .194 average, Maddon will rely more on Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson in late-inning roles. Cory Mazzoni was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to add depth to a bullpen that featured five pitchers with 22 or more appearances in the first 51 games.

The Cubs certainly will miss Edwards’ versatility as he has limited left-handed hitters to a .243 mark with no home runs in 37 at-bats. Last season Edwards led all National League relievers in holding opponents to a .134 mark, including .111 against left-handers, in 73 appearances.

Maddon hopes Edwards can resume throwing in two weeks.

“He has pitched a lot the last couple of years,” Maddon said. “This might actually help us for the latter part of the year. I know you don’t necessarily want it to be this way, but we’re just going to let him heal up and take it from there.”

Meanwhile, an MRI revealed only inflammation in the right triceps of Darvish, who hasn’t pitched since May 22. It wasn’t certain whether Darvish would rejoin the team in New York, but the plan is for him to start a throwing program this weekend or early next week.

Maddon said Darvish, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts, is expected to return “much sooner than CJ will, and we’ll work it from there.”

Left-hander Mike Montgomery will start Saturday night against the Mets, but Maddon wouldn’t commit past that because the Cubs have a day off Monday and have the option of adjusting their rotation for a six-game homestand against the Phillies and Pirates.

Montgomery wasn’t celebrating his long-awaited chance to start this season at the expense of Darvish, but he said, “I want this opportunity.”

“I’m going to try to make the most of it,” said Montgomery, who threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Monday’s 7-0 victory over the Pirates in his first start in place of Darvish. “And from a physical standpoint, I feel good.”

Montgomery admitted to normal soreness Tuesday but believes he’s better equipped for starting this year after shuttling between the rotation and bullpen in 2017.

“There’s a natural progression of building up stamina,” Montgomery said. “There’s more distance (training) and throwing to counteract that. I’ve been that guy. The more I throw in a controlled effort, long-tossing more, the better I end up feeling.

“Whereas in the pen, I like to get on the mound with more intensity and less long-toss. That’s the stuff I’m figuring out, and getting treatments and different things will be key.”

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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