The Cubs won the battle last night against the Dodgers, but they may have taken a couple dings in the season-long war.
First, the less-damaging, and probably-ok news: Tsuyoshi Wada left the game in the third inning with cramping in his deltoid muscle (shoulder muscle, essentially). The shoulder makes you nervous because it’s the shoulder – and “cramping” isn’t always cramping – but it was awfully hot and muggy last night, and the Cubs have indicated that there aren’t even plans for Wada to undergo any further tests. Instead, he’ll be re-evaluated today (presumably to see if it really was just temporary cramping that was alleviated overnight). If all is well, he might not even miss a start.
Given the Cubs’ pitching situation, that’s good news. The reality is Wada is the best of a so-so bunch of options at the back of the Cubs’ rotation. Those other options are plentiful – Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jacob Turner, Dallas Beeler, Donn Roach, and Eric Jokisch (when healthy), among many others – but none is an obvious upgrade over Wada. Not only that, but, heaven forbid the Cubs suffer an injury or two to the guys in their front four. Then you’d really want as many options, including Wada, available as possible.
In the interim, and regardless of Wada’s status, the Cubs will continue to explore options for upgrading their starting pitching depth (quality depth, not just depth-depth).
The news on Dexter Fowler, who also left last night’s game early, is a little more unclear – and, until it’s clear, unnerving. Fowler took a misstep running the bases early in last night’s game, and was in obvious pain. He stayed in the game, but left a couple innings later with what was officially dubbed a left ankle sprain.
Joe Maddon said the injury was a “day-to-day” kind of thing for now, but Fowler is getting X-rays (Cubs.com). Although an X-ray wouldn’t tell the Cubs everything about the health of his ankle, it, coupled with how Fowler is feeling this morning and if there’s significant swelling, could tell them whether a DL stint will be necessary. I’d imagine someone from AAA is on standby today, and maybe even will travel to Chicago just in case a roster move is required.
If Fowler has to miss time, the Cubs will be in a really tough spot until Jorge Soler is ready to return (not likely until next week, at the very earliest). They could play a combination of Chris Coghlan, Chris Denorfia, Matt Szczur, and Junior Lake (if he were called up) in the outfield, though that doesn’t inspire much confidence. They could move Kris Bryant temporarily to the outfield, but that would make sense only if a great option were available at third – Mike Olt is rehabbing now at AAA, but he might not be ready; Tommy La Stella is still out (oblique); Javier Baez is still out (finger); and Christian Villanueva may not be an upgrade over whatever else the Cubs could do in the outfield. Then there’s Arismendy Alcantara, could step right into center field for Fowler, but he could still be working on his trouble with offspeed stuff at AAA, and might be exposed even further in the bigs if he comes back right now.
In other words, there’s not an obvious or excellent solution right now if Fowler has to miss time. It’s a safe bet that he could sit out tonight regardless, and the Cubs will just have to make due with what they have.
We should know more by this evening.