Chicago Cubs ace pitcher Marcus Stroman has a cartilage rib fracture and could miss the rest of the 2023 season. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer confirmed the news Wednesday and did not set a return date for Stroman.

“It’s an unusual injury for a pitcher,” Hoyer said. “We found out on Sunday he was having some issues. We didn’t know if it was muscular, we didn’t know if it was skeletal. We didn’t know if it was indigestion. We didn’t know what it was.”

Stroman has not pitched since July 31 and delivered three straight poor starts before taking time off due to discomfort. His ERA in mid-July was 2.88 but ballooned to 3.85 in the span of two weeks. Manager David Ross, well aware of Stroman’s ability when healthy, remained somewhat hopeful about his chances to return later this season.

“We have to wait and see,” Ross said. “I know he’ll try to work his way back and help us out.”

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Stroman, a former member of the Blue Jays and Mets, was acquired by Chicago in free agency ahead of the 2022 season. He performed moderately well in his first season with the team but improved dramatically this year and appeared in the All-Star Game. The Cubs have improved along with him and currently hold the last Wild Card spot.

Recovery time for rib cartilage fractures differs depending on the severity of the case, with some taking six weeks to heal and others taking more than 12. Based on the uncertainty in the Cubs’ front office, it’s possible that Stroman could miss the remainder of the season, though a firmer timetable is sure to come as more is known about the injury.

While Stroman is recovering, righthanded pitcher Javier Assad will take his place in the starting rotation. He has already proven capable in his brief time as a starter, going more than six innings in his last two starts.

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