Chicago Cubs: Injuries mounting; evaluating Jon Lester’s tough spring

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are banking – hard – on their roster depth as injuries mount, especially in the pitching staff, with Opening Day less than two weeks away.

Really, since the Chicago Cubs turned the corner from Lovable Losers to perennial contender, they’ve relied on tremendous depth. From the likes of last year’s hero, David Bote, to guys like Alex Avila and Trevor Cahill in recent years, Chicago has gotten tremendous contributions from guys who probably weren’t on your radar as fans.

This year, it seems likely to give us more of the same – especially with how Theo Epstein’s recent signings are looking. Brad Brach, who is supposed to be the biggest pen addition? Suffering from decreased velocity and recovering from a bout of mononucleosis that was bad enough the Cubs restructured his deal because of it.

Daniel Descalso, brought on to replace the traded Tommy La Stella and provide infield depth, is battling a shoulder injury and does not have a timeline to get back in the swing of things. Chicago’s two other ‘big’ – and I use that term loosely – pitching additions, Xavier Cedeno and Tony Barnette, are both sidelined with wrist and shoulder injuries, respectively.

What does all that mean? The Cubs are going to be betting on guys like Dakota Mekkes, Dillon Maples, Matt Carasiti, George Kontos (who carries an 8.44 ERA this spring) and Junichi Tazawa (among multiple others) to hold down the fort in their absence.

It also means we could see a lot more David Bote (who would complain about that) and it might open up a roster spot for outfielder Mark Zagunis, who has put together an impressive spring to-date.

Really, it’s more of the same for the Chicago Cubs. We all forget the 2016 team was remarkably healthy, with hardly a single major injury outside of Kyle Schwarber. We had our guys and we rode them – all the way to a World Series title.

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