By: Alex Patt
Good news, the Chicago Cubs are in first place. The bad news, the injury bug is biting the team hard.
Much more concern is growing over Kris Bryant’s shoulder, who was out of the lineup Wednesday and could possibly face another DL stint. Bryant returned from the DL right before the All Star break in San Francisco, and played 10 games between his return and Monday. In those games he slashed .250/.362/.425 with a .787 OPS, two homers, nine strikeouts and only three XBH.
It was pretty clear that Bryant was not 100% in those six games after the All Star break. He was hitting singles and drawing a few walks, but he was not driving the ball and had some trouble catching up to some pitches. Right now he is day-to-day, but the possibility of another DL stint looming with shoulder issues gives fans a nervous feeling. A fear that many people are sharing is this issue leading to surgery, but only time will tell if that is the case. The Cubs were able to survive not having him for a while, but when they get to the final stretch of the season, potentially missing him would not be ideal.
Along with Bryant there are the issues with Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow and Javier Baez. While Baez just has a bruised knee and was able to pinch-hit Wednesday, having your team current MVP aching is always slightly concerning. He will probably be okay though. Darvish and Morrow are the big questions marks, because there is no official time of their return. These are guys the Cubs need to have healthy if they want to go on another run in the postseason.
Darvish has not pitched since May and Morrow has been on and off the DL. At least Darvish is throwing, but is still probably not returning anytime soon. Morrow was placed on the 10-day DL, but Bleacher Nation’s Michael Cerami relays pitching coach Jim Hickey’s comments on 670 the Score that suggest he will not be back when eligible. An exhausted bullpen not having their closer certainly makes things more difficult.
These injuries make the trade deadline more difficult. It is clear they need to make some moves, including adding a starter and bullpen piece. Zach Britton and Brad Hand are off the board, and Jacob deGrom will cost way too much. Theo will have to seek options elsewhere. J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels, and recently Chris Archer (again) have been mentioned in Cubs conversations.A potential move like acquiring Happ or Hamels will not be overly flashy, but it could help fill a need through the rest of the year.