Chicago Cubs: Willson Contreras to miss 4-6 weeks with hamstring strain
On Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced that catcher Willson Contreras could be out for four-to-six weeks with a moderate right hamstring strain.
After leaving Wednesday’s game in the eighth inning, Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was diagnosed with a moderate right hamstring strain. The 25-year-old is now expected to miss four to six weeks of playing time.
This is pretty unfortunate timing considering how tight the NL Central race is right now. The St. Louis Cardinals have been heating up lately and currently trail the first-place Cubs by just one game. And with the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates trailing by mere games, respectively, the Cubs will have to find a way to win without their hottest hitter.
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The Cubs will miss his presence
So what exactly will the Cubs be missing until potentially late-September?
Contreras had been far-and-away the team’s best hitter since the all-star break. On the season, he’s slashing .274/.342/.519 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI. Contreras’ 70 runs driven in puts him one off the team lead, behind first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
According to FanGraphs, Contreras has compiled 3.0 WAR, which puts him second among all major league catchers, behind only Buster Posey. FanGraphs also has Contreras tied for first with Yasmani Grandal as the best defensive catcher in baseball this season.
Next man up
With Contreras now expected to miss more than a month, the newly acquired Alex Avila will take over the starting catching duties. The 30-year-old veteran is posting a .268/.387/.474 slash line to go along with 12 home runs and 34 RBI.
The Cubs have also called up Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa to serve as the backup to Avila. Caratini has been red-hot at the plate for the Iowa Cubs this year, slashing .344/.387/.557 with 10 homers and 59 RBI in 76 games. This will be his second stint with the team this season.
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Losing Contreras is a huge blow, but the Cubs still have a highly potent lineup with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the meaty part of the order. Both players have had somewhat lackluster seasons, at least by their standards, but the loss of Contreras could light a fire in them that gets them swinging hot bats again. In any case, this will be a tough test of resiliency for the Chicago Cubs.