Cubs need to keep playing the hot hand in David Bote
The Cubs offense is scorching hot right now – and David Bote leads the charge.
The Cubs have scored at least seven runs in every game they’ve played dating back to last Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the Brewers. That’s no mistake. Situational hitting, something that was sorely lacking under Joe Maddon, seems to be back in full swing under David Ross.
Paired with a lineup loaded with power hitters, it’s not hard to see why Chicago has found success at the dish. While Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez have garnered most of the attention, you can’t look past what David Bote has done to start the season.
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In 10 at-bats, Bote is batting .500 with a team-leading 1.783 OPS, thanks to a double and a pair of long balls. Prior to the season beginning, I opined Bote should be the team’s go-to option at second base. But Ross opted to go with rookie Nico Hoerner and elder statesman Jason Kipnis, both of whom have played well so far.
That’s delegated Bote to a role similar to the one he served in 2019: a utility catch-all. This year, he’s appeared at both second and third base – but given Kris Bryant’s minor elbow injury, the hot corner seems like the spot he’ll get most of his reps this season.
No matter what you have to do, getting Bote in the lineup on a nightly basis has to be a focal point for the Cubs right now. This team needs every bit of offense it can muster given a bullpen that’s been the laughingstock of the league due to its inability to find the strike zone.
The designated hitter helps matters. I know Victor Caratini gives you a switch-hitter who can fill that role, but the Cubs can’t ignore what Bote is capable of at the plate. Getting him playing time is further complicated by the days when Contreras isn’t catching, he seems likely to DH given his strong start offensively.
Heading into Thursday’s series finale with the Reds, Bote wasn’t in the starting lineup again. Don’t get me wrong, that gives Ross a quality bat off the bench late. But pinch-hitting could definitely become a less common occurrence given pitchers aren’t hitting for themselves.
Bote has done everything in his power to force his way into the starting lineup. But for now, it seems, it’s still not enough for Ross and the Cubs brass.