Why the Cubs optioned Miles Mastrobuoni after activating Nick Madrigal from IL
ST. LOUIS — The Cubs know how vital Nick Madrigal has been to their success.
The infielder has been so impactful that the Cubs were OK optioning hot-hitting Miles Mastrobuoni to Triple-A to make room on the active roster when Madrigal was activated off the 10-day IL.
“Some of our best baseball, too, has been with Madrigal in there,” manager David Ross said. “Hopefully getting him back, we can get back [to] that.”
When he was recalled to the major leagues on June 9, the Cubs began one of their best stretches of baseball. The Cubs are 26-15 since then, the third-best winning percentage in baseball in that time.
Madrigal was a key cog for the first half or so of that run. He solidified the hot corner for the Cubs with solid defense and his bat at the bottom of the order did wonders for lengthening the Cubs’ lineup. In the 19 games he played from June 9 to July 3, Madrigal was slashing .328/.409/.466 with a home run and 5 stolen bases.
“Running the bases, getting the barrel of the bat out in front, more power has shown up this year than last year,” Ross said. “Just getting his rhythm bat, as a whole, just looks much more like the version I think we thought we were getting when we got him from the Chicago White Sox.”
That’s what made Madrigal’s IL stint a little frustrating. When he was acquired by the Cubs in 2021 in the Craig Kimbrel deal, Madrigal was recovering from a torn hamstring. His 2022 campaign was mired with injuries, and he appeared in just 59 games.
This season, he seemed to be hitting a groove and staying healthy — until he felt something chasing a popup in Milwaukee on July 3. He landed on the 10-day IL with a right hamstring strain.
It looked like he was set to return earlier than Saturday, but he suffered a bit of a setback on his rehab assignment and was taken out of the Iowa lineup on July 23.
“It wasn’t anything too big,” Madrigal said. “It was more just being smart about it. I played two games back-to-back and I mean it was really hot down there. My body was just tired from a couple of games of playing. I’ve been in those situations before and forced it a little bit.
“So, I was trying to be smart about it and take the day and was happy I did. The very next day I felt way better and just kept progressing and just one of those things — nothing happened, but just trying to be smart about it.”
Madrigal was back in the Cubs lineup on Saturday against St. Louis, batting 9th and playing third base.
For Mastrobuoni, the hope is he can continue to have at-bats at the Triple-A level and continue to keep his rhythm. While Madrigal was on the IL, Mastrobuoni platooned at third with Patrick Wisdom and showed why the Cubs traded for him in the offseason. He hit .324/.375/.432 with a home run and 4 stolen bases.
“Sometimes, just an odd man out in roster construction and moves and things,” Nick Madrigal said. “He did a really nice job. He’ll be back and help us win a lot of games. Just stay in his rhythm, keep getting at-bats.”