Cubs Have Had the Ouchies

What went through your head on Wednesday as Willson Contreras grabbed his hamstring running down first base at AT&T Park? I'd tell you my reaction, but then your children wouldn't be able to read this particular Cubs blog any more.

I can tell you that I wasn't optimistic...not even a little. Honestly, even after some time to think and calm myself down, I'm still not that positive on the entire situation. It's not that I think the season is over or that the Cubs hopes of the playoffs are out the window. No, it's none of that. As it stands today, the Cubs are a game up on the Brewers for first place in the NL Central. They're in a good spot when it comes to the standings. And for that, I feel very optimistic. But at the same time, the injuries are piling up. And that's a problem.

Here's what it comes down to: we've been spoiled. Outside of the injuries that derailed both Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon's 2016 season, the Championship Cubs remained mystifyingly healthy throughout that entire year; something that lead them to win the World Series in the first place. Sure there were the early-on injuries for Javier Baez and Miguel Montero (and obviously Kyle Schwarber). But when it came down to crunch time, the guys the Cubs needed were out there playing. And they were playing well.

But the 2017 Cubs are a different story. Here are all the DL stints the Cubs have had this year:

  1. Brett Anderson
  2. Jason Heyward
  3. Kyle Hendricks
  4. Ben Zobrist
  5. Jason Heyward (again)
  6. John Lackey
  7. Addison Russell
  8. Koji Uehara
  9. Willson Contreras (presumably)

This list also doesn't include Kris Bryant, who somehow avoided a DL stint for his finger after an awkward head-first slide earlier in the season. He's had one homerun since July 17th, by the way.

That list includes not one, but two starters, your (sometimes) double play combination, and your Gold Glove right fielder.

That's not an ideal situation.

And now, you have your (some would argue) MVP candidate in Contreras gone for what sounds like could be an extended period of time. Here's Theo on a recent radio interview via Patrick Mooney:

“I don’t want to speculate about that,” Epstein told WSCR-AM 670. “If it was a typical hamstring strain, you’re usually looking at four-to-six weeks, and that would give him a chance to come back with a little bit of the season left. But it’s really premature.”

Prior to his injury, Contreras, simply put, was the Cubs offense. How do you replace that? Since the break, Willson has put together a second half that has earned him the fifth best fWAR in the National League with a slash line of .311/.380/.700. He also leads all of baseball with 29 RBI's in the second half.

So again, how do you replace that? You won't with Baez's 27.9 K%. You won't with Bryant's lingering finger issue that is affecting his power. You won't with Zobrist's wrist and .225 average. You won't with Addison's hurt foot.

(Anthony Rizzo. Please save us.)

I don't mean to be all doom and gloom. Again, they're leading the division. And that's a good thing. But they're hanging on... just barely. Willson Contreras going down doesn't help that situation.

Hopefully we'll find out today what the timetable is for Willy's return. And until said return happens, let's hope that solid starting pitching and a bit of Maddon-lineup-restructuring-magic can keep most of the water out of the ship.

Injuries happen. Simply put, the Cubs have been lucky to not have had to deal with a lot of them over the course of the past year or so. But playing baseball for extended periods of time takes it toll on the body (i.e. going deep in the playoffs). These types of things happen to a lot of teams. Let's just hope that when it comes to making a run, the Cubs have who they truly need on the field.



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  • fb_avatar

    I understand and feel your pain, but in all honestly the Cubs have been relatively healthy compared to most of the top teams. Yes, nothing compared to the championship run of 2016.

    The Dodgers have been down extended periods of time w out Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Julio Urias, plus McCarthy and Hill have been down for periods of time as well. Along w the almost mandatory 10 dl stints. The Astros have been w out McCullers, Keuchel, Carlos Correa among others. The Nationals have been w out Joe Ross, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Jayson Werth, plus many 10 DL stints for many others.

    The Cubs real problem is nobody is stepping up and filling in when someone goes down or is struggling. That is what separates great teams from good teams, next man up.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I would agree that they've been relatively healthy. Boston has been a train wreck with injuries and look to be a lock in the AL East. I go more with inconsistencies than injuries on this team.

  • In reply to TC154:

    You guys are right with the exception that the Cubs have a few lingering injuries to major components of the team. I'm referring to KB and Zobrist. I think their play has
    degraded somewhat for quite a long time. That is hard to replace even though they haven't spent a lot of official DL time.

  • Great column as always, Myles. In 2016, I think Fowler also had a DL stint of about 4-6 weeks. But, overall, yes -- they were incredibly healthy last year.

  • In reply to October:

    Ah, you're right. I knew I was forgetting something. Good call.

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    In reply to Myles Phelps:

    It coincided with the awful play--but wasn't necessarily the cause of it--last June. I have blocked that whole time out of my memory.

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    Kyle Schwarber is the key to the cubs chances of winning the NL central now. Kyle Schwarber has to start hitting and cutting down on the strikeouts.

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    He has been hitting. Since his callup his line is .256/.341/.564 .905 OPS .377 wOBA 132 wRC+. That said I agree with you in that he needs to cut back on the Ks but more importantly he needs the power to be more consistent, not just hit in bunches. I would also agree that he probably is the key to the season along with consistent play from Bryant, Rizzo and one or more of Russell (upon his return), Baez and Zobrist. If this guys come close to playing like they can they'll be fine.

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    In reply to TC154:

    1. Once Russell comes back, we have to hope the defense stabilizes and shows 6-8 weeks of the brilliance we saw all last year.

    2. Bryant has to start hitting like an MVP. He needs to get on one of his hot spells and carry this team on his back. Once he gets hot ( I hope), I have to believe the rest will follow.

    3. Cut down on the K's esp in big spots. ( runner on 3rd less then 2 outs, runner on 2nd none out, ect) Cut down their all or nothing swings w 2 strikes.

    4. Manufacture some runs. Lets get an early lead and see how the opponent likes playing from behind. They didn't seem to like it last year !

  • My reaction was two fold:

    I remain optimistic, but it doesn't look like the Cubs years.

    I am so, so, so happy Theo did everything possible to win it last year. That flag flies forever!

  • fb_avatar

    Jesse Rogers reporting Willy w a "moderate" Hamstring strain. Officially hits DL. Expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

    They did say they will reevaluate after 2 weeks. So if he's pain free after 2 weeks, then he will start working his way back.

  • fb_avatar

    I think "Big Willy" is another word the filter like to eat.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    He's out 4-6 weeks w a moderate hamstring strain according to Jesse Rogers.

    They said they want him to rest for 2 weeks and then reevaluate. Hopefully he's pain free in 2 weeks, and then he can start working his way back.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    "I think 'Big Willy' is another word the filter like to eat."

    Thanks. It is just this kind of insightful commentary I have come to expect from this site. Digging beneath the surface to find that kernel of truth. LOL (*sorry, don't mean to offend*)

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I usually don't have post eaten by the filter, so when I do, I look and try to remember the trigger words.

    Just trying to pass on some info.....

  • They need to step up and play good baseball as they did coming out of the break, lord knows the talent is there but the execution has not been. Losing Contreras should not be that big of a deal if the others play to their ability but, for some maddening reason they sputter.

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    Timing is everything too. Last year since Schwarbs went to the DL so early we learned to adapt without him. What if it had been when Willson hurt himself, I'm sure we would have thought completely differently. Now the difference is also that we have a neck and neck and neck race this year and we were very far ahead last year.

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