Chicago Cubs just keep winning, despite nearly a dozen injuries

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

If I’m summing up the month of May for the Chicago Cubs, it has to be ‘next man up’ because this team has battled through a ton of injuries to key players to run off a 17-7 record and close in on first place in the division just days from the start of June.

The most glaring loss in recent weeks? First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who continues to battle lower back tightness, an injury that’s been an issue off-and-on for much of his Cubs career.

Rizzo last appeared in a game on May 25 but reportedly had been playing through the injury for a spell prior to then. It didn’t seem to have slowed him down, at least at the plate, though. From May 16 on, the three-time All-Star hit .345. But the latest from the club is that he’s making very slow progress on his way to getting back to 100 percent.

Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo is making slow progress in his recovery

Manager David Ross told reporters on Friday that Rizzo is ‘progressing a little bit slower’ – which isn’t great news for a team that’s already got 10 players on the IL, including several key guys in the infield, namely Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy.

At least so far, Chicago hasn’t put Rizzo on the injured list – but it might be more because of the team’s precarious 40-man roster situation than anything else. In the midst of a stretch without an off-day till June 10, the Cubs are walking a tightrope when it comes to putting together a lineup on a daily basis.

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Now, typically, you’d think Kris Bryant could slide over to first – and he has done that recently – but given the rash of injuries in the outfield (Jake Marisnick, Jason Heyward), Ross needs him in the outfield to fill in out there just as badly. Seriously, the Cubs have asked a ton of Bryant this year and he just keeps answering the call.

With Rizzo still sidelined, you can expect some combination of Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and Eric Sogard filling in at first. That’s all fine and dandy, but if one of those three is in your starting lineup regularly, you probably don’t feel great about it. Suffice to say the gap between a healthy Anthony Rizzo and any of those guys is sizable.

All of that to say the Chicago Cubs have a major injury problem. On the pitching side of things, Alec Mills, Justin Steele, Trevor Megill and Rowan Wick are all sidelined. That hasn’t stopped the bullpen from emerging as a major strength for the club, though, but getting some fresh arms back in the mix heading into a tough month of June will be critical.

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Here’s to hoping we see Rizzo back on the field soon. For a lot of reasons and in a lot of ways, the team is better when he’s in the lineup. If Chicago wants to keep this thing rolling, they’ll definitely need him at his best this summer.