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Coming into this season it was made very clear the Chicago Cubs would have a heavy platoon system, especially in the outfield. To this point the results have been mixed, and certainly not what most expected.
Center and left field were expected to see the most changes day after day, and Nate Schierholtz was to be the constant in right with the occasional rest day. But after a breakout season last year, Schierholtz has struggled to find consistency. With a slash of .195/.242/.257, and only 12 RBIs and no home runs, he has become just as much part of the platoon mix as the next man.
Emilio Bonifacio, signed very late in the off-season, has been a pleasant surprise. Bonifacio leads the team with a .293 average, and has stolen 11 bases, good for fourth in the National League. Bonifacio is able to play the infield as well, but in all honesty is a better outfielder.His versatility though allows manager Rick Renteria more flexibility with the lineup.
Ryan Kalish and Junior Lake both got off to slow starts, but each has rebounded in his own right. Kalish has a slash of .267/.321/.347, and has found some success hitting at, or near the top of the order.
Lake has shown flashes of the success he found last year, but has moments where his aggressiveness works against him. He’s still very raw, but has a high-upside in my opinion. His team-leading 42 strikeouts are where he has to make the biggest change, but his power and speed are very evident.
Add to the mix Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, and Chris Coghlan and you have a full house in the outfield. Sweeney was seeing most of the playing time, but injury has derailed him and opened the door for Coghlan and Ruggiano to make a case.
The season is long, and many thought that Schierholtz would end up being traded before the All-Star break. But his slow start may have chased away any suitors. So Renteria will continue to mix things up, and hopefully someone will stand out sooner than later.