Young Cubs will need rest to maintain efficiency
The baseball season is a marathon not a sprint. With the stockpile of young players on the Chicago Cubs, making sure they have the energy and mental focus late in the season will be very important. It may be time forJoe Maddon
to start using his creativity to get some of these players a day off once in a while.
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Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are veterans compared to the prospects we’ve seen this year. They have played full seasons and have done so playing at an all-star level. Rizzo, who made his first appearance in the mid-summer classic in 2014, has played at least 140 games the last two seasons while his infield partner Castro has played an equal number including 2012 when he played in all 162 regular season games.
I’m not advocating for these two to sit a lot more, just enough to help them keep a mental edge. We can see that they can handle the workload, but this year is different. The Cubs are looking to contend which means the level that they must play at each night is that much higher. One could argue that playing a full major league schedule is easier when your primary focus is just your development.
Shifting gears to the other young stars on this roster and the need for rest is a must. The scope of what Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell have done as pros is very small. Professionally, the trio has played about half the games of a Major League schedule per year averaged. Much like a pitcher working towards the rotation, players should be stretched out before making the jump. It will allow them to focus on their work, keep themselves mentally aware and rested, and could even prevent injuries associated with the increased workload.
So what does it all mean for the Cubs moving forward? Maddon is blessed knowing that a rejuvenated Javier Baez is lurking in AAA Iowa. Once he makes his return, the team has an opportunity to give some of the infielders a day off more consistently. The mad(don) scientist can use the versatility of Baez and Russell, who both can provide rest for Castro and for each other.
Rizzo can be relieved if needed by a number of players and Jonathan Herrera can provide Bryant a breather too. During inter-league play, The Cubs need to rotate the role of designated hitter which would give players a day off from playing the field defensively.
Joe Maddon preached consistency during spring training. He wants guys to treat March 15th like they would October 15th. It might be in the Cubs interest to be proactive to ensure these young stars can still shine brightly late in the year.