Dexter Fowler left a weekend series against the Pirates in mid-June with hamstring discomfort. The Cubs would go on to sweep that series against the Pirates.
You have felt miserable as a Cubs fan ever since.
No, that is not to say there’s a 1:1 correlation between the Cubs being without Fowler and the deep woes that kicked off in the following series, an especially ugly sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. After all, many of the Cubs’ losses during this 5-12 stretch came for reasons that plainly had nothing at all to do with the offense.
… of course, blown leads maybe aren’t blown leads if the lead is a run or two larger. But anyway.
The point here is that the Cubs have been awful since Dexter Fowler went on the disabled list, and the Cubs are inarguably better with a healthy Fowler in the lineup, so how soon can we expect him back?
Although his injury was original deemed so mild that it almost didn’t warrant a disabled list stint at all, Fowler has now been on the DL three days longer than the required minimum 15-day stay. And he’ll probably be on for a bit longer than that.
In essence, the plan right now is to determine in the next day or two whether Fowler will be ready for a minor league rehab assignment – one or two games – so that he can participate in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 12 (Cubs.com, ESPN).
Joe Maddon emphasized that, of course, the primary concern is having Fowler healthy for the Cubs the rest of the way. But playing in the All-Star Game is important to Fowler, and it is a natural return date in that regard. If Fowler completes his rehab stint before the game, it sounds like he’ll be able to play in it. If not, he probably won’t.
I know that some will blanch at the idea of the All-Star Game being the targeted return date, but (1) the *possibility* of him getting back before that was not entirely precluded, (2) it remains of paramount importance not to rush Fowler and risk a setback just because there’s a break coming up (and the All-Star Game is later than, say, this weekend), and (3) this would be Fowler’s first All-Star Game, and could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This is a guy who came back to the Cubs late in the process on an extremely affordable deal, and then played out of his mind for the first two months of the season. He earned the right to play in the All-Star Game, and, if he’s completely healthy and that’s just how the timing works out, then I will enjoy watching him play, and will dream on another couple huge months for the Cubs in the second half.