Chicago Cubs: Don't hit the panic button with Contreras' injury
|Saturday, August 12, 2017, 5:48 PM- -|
CHICAGO -- Losing Wilson Contreras to a hamstring injury for any amount of time is detrimental to the cause especially since he has been the Chicago Cubs hottest hitter since the All-Star break with a slash line of .311/.380/.700, driving in 29 runs and hitting ten home runs. Oh, and he was National League player of the week before he got injured.
Four to six weeks is a long time in baseball for an injury as it took the Cubs less time than that to erase a 5.5 game deficit with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central division after the All-Star break.
However, if you are going to lose your hottest hitter for any period of time, now is the perfect time for the Cubs based on their upcoming schedule.
The North Siders kick off a road swing where they take on the Diamondbacks in Arizona, after that the schedule gets a bit easier. The timetable for Wilson’s return puts him back as early as September 6th in Pittsburgh or as late as September 20th in Tampa Bay. In between that, the Cubs will battle with Cincinnati twice, Philadelphia and Atlanta. The hardest series of the group will be against the Pirates, and if he is out six weeks, he will miss one series against each contenders Milwaukee and St. Louis. So the Cubs should be able to maintain a decent record against some weaker opponents and hopefully put some separation between them and the Brewers and Cardinals before those series come around.
Then there is the factor of Alex Avila. The injury to Contreras makes the deadline deal to acquire the eight-year veteran much more impactful and a savvy move by Theo Epstein and company. This year with the Tigers and his limited time with the Cubs he’s posted a .268/.387/.474 slash line with 13 homers and 34 runs driven in. In that time he has also posted a 1.9 WAR according to FanGraphs. So while it isn’t Wilson Contreras production, Avila can still put up respectable numbers. His time with the Tigers also produced four postseason appearances for Detroit so he has experience playing in a pennant race down the stretch. His veteran experience will be vital even with a healthy Willson Contreras.
With the mix of the addition of Avila, the Cubs have recalled Victor Carantini who has posted a .344/.387/.557 slash line in Triple-A Iowa with ten home runs and 57 RBIs. He will look to improve after an earlier stint in Chicago this season in which he got limited at-bats. I wouldn’t completely rule out Schwarber getting time behind the plate though I find it unlikely besides in an emergency situation. The Cubs will also get an offensive boost when Addison Russell returns from his stint on the disabled list. The fact of the matter is the bats in the Cubs lineup will have to pick up some slack, but they have the veteran pieces in place to continue winning until Wilson Contreras is back up and running.
Don’t hit the panic button just yet Cubs Nation.