Cubs: Looking to hit the reset button on Nick Madrigal
Chicago Cubs infielder Nick Madrigal has begun a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs this weekend as he works his way back from injury. The former first-round pick has been on the IL with back tightness and has not played in a game since May 9 in San Diego. It has been a rough go of things health-wise for Madrigal so far in his still-young MLB career. Last year he missed more than half the season after suffering a hamstring tear.
This rehab stint is more than just a chance to get healthy again, but a chance to hit the reset button on the 2022 season. So far in 23 games, Madrigal has hit only .203/.250/.241 with three extra-base knocks. The ultimate goal for Madrigal is to be a high-average, contact hitter. He hit .317/.358/.406 in his first 83 MLB games with the White Sox. He had shown his ability to make contact and spray the ball around on the South Side, we have just not seen it on the North Side yet.
Nick Madrigal looking to hit the reset button with the Cubs
It was pretty clear Madrigal was not looking quite right when he began his Cubs tenure. His 2022 strikeout rate, which was never above 8 percent in his professional career, sits at 16.7 percent. For that number to all of the sudden double is concerning, to say the least.
Madrigal was also pulling the ball a lot more. He often hits the ball on the ground, so these pulled groundballs were going straight to the shortstop or third baseman. In 2022 he is pulling the ball 40 percent of the time, in 2020 he pulled the ball only 18.8 percent and 23.4 percent in 2021. His BABIP on the season is .246.
It is no mystery why Madrigal’s hitting stats do not look good so far.
We have to remember a few things. First, Madrigal has 542 plate appearances in his career between Triple-A and the MLB level. To put that in perspective, Patrick Wisdom has 532 plate appearances with the Cubs since he came up in 2021. Madrigal’s experience is still pretty limited. Add in the fact he is coming off a major injury and had an unusual offseason rehabbing with the lockout. If Madrigal can feel better physically and mentally after this rehab, then hopefully we get better production at the plate from him.
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While it is tempting to write Madrigal off considering his style of play, he deserves more time to prove he was the guy the White Sox drafted fourth overall in 2018. Honestly, the Cubs should not rush him. If they feel he needs a decent amount of time in Triple-A, he should get that. Do whatever it takes to get him right and work on his craft. Either way, now is the time for Madrigal to prove it.