If the Cubs lose these 2 guys to the injured list, the season could go off the rails

Losing Seiya Suzuki and/or Nico Hoerner for any significant stretch could prove disastrous.
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

After getting back to .500 with a two-game series sweep against the White Sox at Wrigley earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs dropped the first two contests against the Reds in Cincinnati, falling to 31-33 on the year and into a three-way tie with the Cardinals and Reds for second place in the NL Central.

After piling 14 runs on against Sox pitching Tuesday and Wednesday, the offense has mustered just six runs in the first two games at Great American Ballpark, going 3-for-14 (.214) with runners in scoring position in the process. Now, the Cubs are faced with the possibility of being without two key members of the offense in Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki, both of whom are day-to-day with injuries.

Hunter Greene hit Hoerner on the hand with a 96 MPH fastball in Thursday's series opener and soreness kept the Cubs infielder out of the starting lineup Friday. Initial imaging was 'inconclusive' and he will undergo additional testing on that right hand.

Hoerner owns a career-low 9.5% strikeout rate in 2024 and, despite batted ball metrics that raise some eyebrows, is coming off a 175-hit campaign last year. He's a very patient hitter capable of piling up base knocks and causing havoc on the basepaths (43 SB a year ago). More importantly, though, any IL stint would necessitate David Bote stepping into a semi-regular role, which isn't ideal.

Nick Madrigal, who would have been the next man up most of the season, broke his hand in his first game with Triple-A Iowa - which takes him out of the equation for now. The team's middle infield depth could be tested, and the internal options won't turn many heads.

Cubs need Seiya Suzuki to be healthy, driving the offense this summer

As for Suzuki, we're back on oblique watch after the outfielder took a throw to the left side while attempting to steal second base. We've seen Suzuki sidelined each of the last two seasons with oblique issues, so despite his leaving the game on Friday being 'precautionary', we're all waiting with bated breath to see if that soreness lingers.

In the third year of his deal, Suzuki has established himself as an above-average offensive player, although he admittedly is a streaky hitter. He's got an .885 OPS over the last 15 days, showing signs of turning the corner and heating up at the plate. If the Cubs offense is ever going to click this summer, he has to be a key part of it.

Even healthy, Chicago hasn't been able to put it all together. But subtracting either one of (or, heavens forbid, both) of these guys could be a knockout blow for Craig Counsell's team during a stretch of the schedule perfect for making a run and making up ground on the first-place Brewers.