Will his recent time off for a lingering back issue help Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo rise to the occasion and carry the team’s offense?
Just when it seemed like Anthony Rizzo was starting to find his power stroke, a recurring back issue flared up, sidelining the three-time All-Star to the bench. With the Chicago Cubs needing every game to get back to October yet again in 2019, they’ll need their slugger – and they’ll need him at 100 percent, too.
He’s noticed improvements since going down with the injury over the weekend and, by all indications, he should be good to go by the time the Cubs welcome the rival Milwaukee Brewers to Wrigley Field for a pivotal three-game set this weekend.
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"“It’s calmed down a lot,” Rizzo told NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday, “So hoping today when I go in we work on it, dig on it and activate it. Hopefully it kind of flushes out. Usually with stuff like this it’s a few days then right back to normal.”"
Prior to the injury, Rizzo looked like he’d finally rediscovered his feel at the dish. He’d hit three home runs in four games, slashing an impressive .444/.630/1.000, drawing seven walks and plating seven runs over that span.
Given the Cubs’ season-long issues with offensive consistencies, this was critical in the grand scheme of things.
Last August, he powered Chicago – putting up a .430 on-base and .612 slugging percentage as the team went 18-12, their best single-month record of the campaign. He cooled a bit in September but still played well down the stretch, getting on base at a .386 rate over the final month.
Of course, what I remember most is his performance in Game 162 against the St. Louis Cardinals. With their season hanging in the balance, the Cubs fell behind early 2-0 before roaring back with four tallies in both the third and fifth innings before tacking on two more insurance runs late.
Rizzo, for his part, went 4-for-4, scoring three runs and drawing a walk – reaching base five times in the win. Of course, that game pushed the season to a winner-take-all Game 163 against Milwaukee. But without their first baseman’s presence, it’s doubtful the Cubs would have even had that chance.
He’s still got a shot at another 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign. But as we know, it’s all about the team when it comes to Rizzo and what he’ll want most is to propel the team to another division crown – and back to October baseball once again.