The Cubs have been missing the regular left side of the infield for 10 days now and, even though the All-Star break accounts for most of that, the lineup has been much worse off as a result. It doesn’t appear as though either Dansby Swanson or Nick Madrigal will be back before the series against the Nationals, and it’s pretty optimistic to think the latter could be back by the end of the month.
Swanson is eligible to come off the IL on Sunday, but David Ross told reporters prior to Saturday’s game against Boston that the shortstop is still feeling pain in his heel when he runs. This shouldn’t be something that’s going to drag out for much longer, just a matter of getting him back to as close to 100% as possible.
Madrigal, on the other hand, has been beset by leg injuries for the last three seasons and could be out for quite a while longer. A hamstring tear that required surgery shut him down for most of 2021 and then hamstring and groin issues hampered his performance last season. Madrigal did a little running in the outfield on Saturday and Ross said it’s possible he’d be ready for a rehab assignment before the next road trip, though that assumes everything goes perfectly with his rehab.
I can’t believe we’re sitting here in mid-July talking about the Cubs needing to get Madrigal back to play third base, yet that’s exactly what’s happening. As a team, the Cubs are 26th in MLB with an aggregate 81 wRC+ at third and their 0.3 fWAR is only slightly better at 24th. Madrigal is at a 95 wRC+ and 0.7 fWAR on the season, though he’s put up a 144 wRC+ since coming back from Iowa.
The question now is whether he’s able to return in time for that improved production to matter.