Chicago Cubs: Bryant injury makes Bote and Happ essential


With Kris Bryant out, the Chicago Cubs will lean heavily on two young players to fill his spot

Kris Bryant’s nagging shoulder injury has landed him back on the DL. Ian Happ and David Bote will have the tall task of filling his shoes.

Cubs’ fans knew Bryant’s bothersome shoulder was serious when Joe Maddon aired his modest ambition of simply trying to “get him through the season”. Not for Bryant to be great—or even good—but simply just to be on the roster when the season reaches its conclusion.

Fans’ fears were brought to fruition when Bryant was again sent to the DL. Now the Chicago Cubs will have to find ways to win without him for at least the next week. Fortunately, however, the Cubs’ capable depth just might mitigate the loss of Bryant.

Ian Happ, David Bote protected from being traded

Both of Happ and Bote were apparently prime trade bait just mere weeks ago. Bote was showing some legitimate potential in MLB. Everyone knew Ian Happ’s name after his monster spring training, and now he’s apparently worked his way out of his up and down first half of the season.

With a perfectly healthy Bryant, either of the two could help shore up the rotation or add depth to the bullpen. But Bryant could spend the rest of the year bouncing between the roster and the DL. The Chicago Cubs simply can’t afford to give up any infield depth with their former-MVP third baseman’s health in question.

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Faith in the role players

However, it’s not as though the Cubs are reluctantly keeping Happ and Bote around. They’ve both been good, and maybe even really good. In Bote’s 20 games this year, he’s hitting .310 with a 132 wRC+ and an .867 OPS. It’s a small sample size, to be fair, but the Cubs won’t complain to see how those numbers look as that sample size grows.

Ian Happ has gotten over his rocky start in a triumphant fashion. Since June 10th, Happ has been slashing .290/.415/.458 with four homeruns and a wRC+ of 138. His strikeout rate is high in that window—he’s striking out in 28.5% of his plate appearances—but that’s somewhat mitigated by his 17.7% walk rate.

Next. Five possible Cubs trade candidates. dark

The Cubs might not be able to count on Kris Bryant going forward, but they still have hope in their promising role-players.