Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman to be activated off COVID-19 list

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are getting healthier on the mound as they expect to activate righty Marcus Stroman from the COVID-19 injured list and start him against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.

Closer David Robertson, meanwhile, will return Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates after being activated off COVID IL. He had been out since May 9.

Stroman, 31, last pitched on May 1, having thrown his best game of the season before being scratched for his next start.

"We've missed him," manager David Ross said Wednesday afternoon. "That's for sure. Guys have picked up the slack. It will be nice to get him back. He was throwing the ball as good as anyone before he went down. This is a version of our rotation we felt it would look like coming out of spring training."

The Cubs just recently had Wade Miley make his season debut -- he threw seven shutout innings Monday -- while youngsters Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have pitched well for the team so far.

Veteran righty Kyle Hendricks struggled early but has produced two good starts in a row as the pitching staff compiled a league best 1.43 ERA over the past week. Now, they're getting a big offseason addition back into the rotation.

"You never know until you know," Ross said of activating players from the COVID injured list. "The expectations are one thing but actually getting clearance from everyone is ... We hope for the best, but it doesn't always work out."

Stroman is 1-3 with a 5.13 ERA in five starts this year after signing a three-year, $71 million deal with the Cubs during the winter. He threw seven shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in his last outing before going on the injured list.

Robertson is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA with five saves for the Cubs this season.

Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. was sent down to Triple-A Iowa with Robertson's activation.