The Chicago Cubs have become one of the most versatile clubs in the league. Several players can play multiple positions, and they have to. Joe Maddon has gone to a three-man bench for the time being.
With nine relievers, the Chicago Cubs Joe Maddon can keep his bullpen fresh. And with all of the players coming off the IL with injuries? It’s a smart play. Especially Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Craig Kimbrel, who usually work the later innings. But it takes a toll on Maddon with his defensive subs because he only has a three-man bench.
The Cubs can do this because of their versatility. The only one who hasn’t played in the last three games? The backup catcher. It was all fun and games when Taylor Davis was pitching, and Kyle Schwarber caught him. But do we want to use Schwarber as our emergency catcher? That answer is no; we do not.
As far as Maddon goes, he needs to be more creative in the field with substitutions. While the team is versatile, they don’t have as many players, as he told the Chicago Tribune.
"“There’s lots to consider,” Maddon said. “You’re probably going to see a different alignment at the conclusion of the game than we’re accustomed to. That’s the bigger difference.” h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"
In yesterday’s win, Maddon put Addison Russell at second, shifted Ian Happ to center, Jason Heyward moved from center to right, and Nicholas Castellanos moved from right to left, replacing Schwarber. Man, that was a mouthful. But it what it is when you rock a three-man bench.
September call-ups are coming soon, and it’s unknown if Maddon will continue this three-man bench until then, or make a roster move for another position player. Anyone on the 40-man roster who’s not injured is fair game. The Cubs could take advantage of that to see what the prospects have.
Remember, the rosters for next year are different. It’ll move from 25 to 26, but in September it will be just 28 players from the 40-man. This has its own set of requirements to manage the game effectively.
Whenever Ben Zobrist is ready, he’ll likely be the first move. The Chicago Cubs can’t expect much out of Zobrist, but he’ll at least be a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Even though he’s played very little, he was a hero in the 2016 World Series. And he had another stellar season after a down year in 2018. He deserves this chance to have this moment, whatever comes of it.