Chicago Cubs News: Nico Hoerner set to return on Friday against Phillies
Chicago Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner is on track to return from the Injured List on Friday when the team begins a weekend series on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Cubs manager David Ross told reporters on Monday that Hoerner was progressing well after suffering a mild hamstring strain against the St. Louis Cardinals last Monday.
Prior to the injury, Hoerner had been a fixture at the top of the Cubs' lineup as he appeared in every game while starting at second base. Hoerner is slashing .303/.348/.395 on the season while posting a 103 wRC+.
There is no doubt that Hoerner's presence at the top of the Cubs' lineup has been missed. Not so much this past weekend against the Minnesota Twins as the Cubs' pitching let them down in their losses on Saturday and Sunday but certainly last week in their series against the Cardinals. Hoerner provides value in the leadoff spot for the Cubs because of his ability to put the ball in play and that is an element that the team has missed in recent weeks.
Hoerner's return on Friday likely will signal utility infielder Miles Mastrobuoni being optioned back down to Triple-A Iowa. Mastrobuoni was recalled once the Cubs placed Hoerner on the IL last Friday but has yet to record a hit since his return to the Major League level.
Though, an argument could be made that the Cubs would be better off by optioning Nick Madrigal to Triple-A Iowa. Christopher Morel's power is going to keep him in the lineup and third base seems like the position that he will get the most plate appearances once Hoerner returns. Madrigal had previously been the primary backup to Patrick Wisdom at third base but he may be better suited to having consistent plate appearances with the I-Cubs as he tries to find his offensive hit tool.