Cubs Injury Updates: A Closer, an Ace, a Former MVP, and a Current MVP Walk STRAIGHT Into a Bar ...

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Cubs Injury Updates: A Closer, an Ace, a Former MVP, and a Current MVP Walk STRAIGHT Into a Bar …

Chicago Cubs

Right now, the Cubs are playing without their theoretical top starter, Yu Darvish, their top reliever, Brandon Morrow, and two of their top position players, Kris Bryant and Javy Baez. That hurts. Bad. In terms of inflicting maximum damage with just four injuries, it doesn’t get much worse than your ace, closer, former MVP, and current MVP.

Hopefully the latter two are just short-term things, but both are out of the lineup today.

  • With no outs in the top of the seventh inning last night, Steven Souza Jr. tried to extend a single into a double, when he ran into the defensive brick wall that is Albert Almora Jr. and Javy Baez. You can see the play here, in case you missed it. But although the Cubs got the out, Javy may have paid for it:

  • The Cubs are already playing with a short bench because of Kris Bryant (and the fact that they’re rolling with eight relievers), so if Baez can’t go off the bench today, the bench will essentially have just one available player plus the back-up catcher. Yikes.
  • Sticking on the positional side, Patrick Mooney’s latest at The Athletic is about as scary as it gets without any actual bad news. From his perspective, Joe Maddon’s message on Kris Bryant was clear: yesterday was not just a day off, and it was already clear at that time he wasn’t going to start today. And worse, the implications of that time off aren’t limited to just a lack of Kris Bryant on the field. David Bote may now be called upon to fill in for Bryant, which is fine, but also means he can’t be used as a potential trade chip as the deadline approaches. But that’s sort of off-topic, and I’m not sure we want to see him dealt right now anyway.
  • For now, Maddon says rest would be the best thing for Bryant, before adding that “we’re not necessarily ready to do that,” which I believe to mean they’re not ready to put him on the DL again, though it’s unclear. But to be sure, Maddon isn’t sounding the alarms. He’s simply being, in his words, proactive: “I want to make sure that we’re not pushing it too hard right now. I just had a nice conversation with him and again it’s just sore. He felt it on the swing a little bit yesterday and then played through it and didn’t feel great afterwards. He’s not feeling that great yet today, so let’s not mess with this right now.”
  • The only really bad thing to come out of Joe Maddon’s mouth (re: Bryant’s shoulder) was when he said the issue might be “dealt with” after the season, leading many to speculate that surgery was on the table. But it’s just way too early – and the comments too ambiguous, in my opinion – to take that leap right now. But I’d keep that in the back of your mind. Moving on.
  • Pitching coach Jim Hickey’s comments regarding Brandon Morrow (biceps) on 670 The Score this morning did absolutely nothing to calm my nerves. Essentially, despite being eligible to come off the disabled list as soon as tomorrow, Morrow will not likely be activated this weekend. Hickey suggested that Morrow’s still experiencing “a lot of pain” and revealed that he hasn’t even pitched off the mound yet – a necessary precursor to returning. To really crystalize the point, he concluded with a “I don’t think we’re gonna see him back when he’s eligible to be back.” Joy.
  • Joe Maddon echoes the sentiment:

  • But it’s not all DOOM and GLOOM. There’s actually some good news to report. Sorta. According to Hickey, Darvish’s bullpen went well yesterday and the plan is to wait and see how he recovers today, before throwing at least one more bullpen. Joe Maddon’s comments were less reassuring, but along the same lines: “Went well. No real horrible discomfort, so that was a positive.”
  • As for what’s next, specifically, Hickey said that Darvish would throw another bullpen, this time between 35-40 pitches, and possibly even a third, before facing live hitters. After that, he could head out for a Minor League rehab assignment in August, and, depending on how many starts he needs to feel comfortable and look ready, could be back with the Cubs before September – something Hickey was optimistic about.
  • Given the possibility of adding an arm at the deadline and the fact that the Cubs could probably win this division either way, getting Darvish back by September – so he could join the expanded roster and make 4-5 starts before the postseason – would be absolutely ideal. That way, the Cubs would more or less know what they have in him and could plan for October accordingly. The next big step is waiting to see how he “feels” today, but if he gives us the thumbs up, he could be just a little bit closer to returning.
  • For a final, random note: Hickey also revealed that the Cubs are going to build Drew Smyly back out as a starter, but not necessarily because they want him to start *this year.* In his estimation, every post-Tommy John pitcher – reliever or otherwise – needs to be built back up as a starter to build up arm strength slowly and surely. Then, if you want to deploy him as a reliever once he’s strong you can have him work in that less predictable fashion.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami