With Dexter Fowler headed to the 15-day disabled list, Albert Almora Jr. will get an extended chance to prove what he can do in the daily lineup, while further proving his defensive prowess in centerfield.
Fowler’s hamstring injury doesn’t seem to be serious, but the Cubs are smart to play it safe, especially considering their massive lead in the division.
This will serve as a lengthy preview of what Cubs fans will likely see in 2017. Fowler is expected to explore free agency this offseason, opening up a spot in the outfield for Almora. The 2012 1st round draft pick has already surprised some at the plate, hitting .333 in 20 at-bats. But, Maddon has been selective with Almora thus far, using him in more favorable match-ups —batting in the daily lineup will provide a bigger challenge for the young outfielder.
Injury is obviously never a good thing, but this may come at the perfect time for the coasting Cubs. The Almora-audition will be valuable for Cubs management, it gives them a chance to better evaluate his capabilities at the big league level. It may be a forgone conclusion that Almora will be an everyday starter by next year, but these two weeks will help the front office decide what to do when Soler and Fowler return from the DL this season.
Expect Ben Zobrist (.316/.423/.489) to lead off in Fowler’s absence.
Contreras to stay
Willson Contreras will stay with the big-league club, creating a three-man catching rotation. David Ross will continue to catch Jon Lester while Miguel Montero will work with Jake Arrieta, Maddon said on Monday.
"If we can get Contreras two out of five, possibly even a three spot once in a while, I think that can keep him somewhat solvent," Maddon said.
With Montero struggling at the dish and behind it, hitting .202/.319/.325 while only throwing out two of 32 base stealers, it looks as if Contreras will become the starting catcher.
Edwards to bigs
The Cubs have called up Carl Edwards Jr. from Triple-A Iowa. The right-hander had a 4.26 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 24 relief appearances this season. Edwards provides the Cubs much-needed bullpen depth, but the team is still looking to bolster the backend of the pen with a strong lefty.