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The ripple effects from Mike Tauchman’s injury on Cubs roster

1 month agoAndy Martinez

This time it’s outfielder Mike Tauchman, who was placed on the 10-day IL on Tuesday with a Grade 2 left groin strain.

“We’re gonna need probably 4 weeks to heal,” manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday afternoon. “So he’s gonna miss significant time.”

Infielder Miles Mastrobuoni was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take Tauchman’s place on the active roster.

Tauchman suffered the injury in Monday’s heartbreaking loss to the Giants. The left-handed hitter beat out an infield single in the 3rd inning, but immediately signaled to the Cubs dugout. He was lifted for pinch runner Patrick Wisdom. 

The 33-year-old has emerged as a key offensive piece for manager Craig Counsell. After earning the fourth outfielder spot out of camp, Tauchman has picked up where he left off last season, posting a .741 OPS and a 117 weighted runs-created plus. Counsell has deployed him across all three outfield spots and at designated hitter, while primarily serving as the team’s leadoff hitter. 

His absence will create another question mark for an offense that has struggled for a large portion of this season. Over their last 47 games, the Cubs have a league-worst .174 batting average with runners in scoring position. They’re dead last in batting average overall (.214) in that time, too. 

“Mike’s been a very consistent offensive presence for us for sure,” Counsell said. “That will be missed absolutely – the left-handed bat, the ability to get on base. His ball-strike decisions are as good as anybody really in baseball. And so that on-base component definitely will be missed.”

The question on fans’ minds might be — why was Mastrobuoni the call up and not outfielder Alexander Canario, who has a .958 OPS and 13 home runs? Canario left Saturday’s game with an injury and missed Sunday’s game. Plus, the Cubs have 4 outfielders on the big-league roster with Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki and Pete Crow-Armstrong, so playing time would be sparse. 

“At this point, the way that the lineups were going, we were kind of sitting one of these guys every day,” Counsell said. “And so really didn’t see opportunities for a lot of playing time. Whether it would be Mike sat once in a while, or Michael Busch or Pete – those are going to be the guys that are [gonna play] and Miles would largely be a bench piece.”

Another option could have been outfielder Owen Caissie, one of the team’s top prospects who has an .878 OPS with 8 home runs, 40 RBI and a 131 wRC+. But he is not yet on the 40-man roster and Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer shot down the idea of a prospect coming up and providing an immediate injection into the team’s offense. 

“Certainly we have those conversations, we talk about how they’re doing all the time and what’s left in their development,” Hoyer said. “But I always kinda say the same thing, which is I don’t see any one young bat coming up here and sparking the offense. To your point, there’s not an obvious place. 

“So again, I know everyone wants an immediate change, but ultimately I think the immediate changes [are] this group starting to hit the way we did in April.” 

The addition of Mastrobuoni provides Counsell with another left-handed bat and a speed option off the bench. Mastrobuoni has been on a tear with the I-Cubs of late, too. Over his last week, the 28-year-old is hitting .462 with a 1.279 OPS and 5 extra-base hits. 

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