What Will The April (Injury) Showers Bring?

With two games left in April the Chicago Cubs are sitting in first place even after losing two of three to, one of my other favorite teams, the Boston Red Sox. The injury bug bit on opening day when Justin Steele left the game early then a couple days later was placed on the Injured List with a strained hamstring. He is expected to return sometime in the next few days. The injuries did not stop there. Nope, in April there were some other pitchers that landed on the Injured List for various reasons. So, today we will take a look at what these early season injuries mean for the Cubs as they are expected to be contenders this year.

Julian Merryweather who was supposed to help out in a late inning reliever was placed on the Injured List on April 7th with a right shoulder strain and is now expected to return sometime in June. Then on the 15th Seiya Sezuki was placed on the Injured List with an strain after getting off to a hot start. Fast forward to the last week when the injury bug bit in a huge way taking Kyle Hendricks (lower back strain), Drew Smyly (right hip impingement), Cody Bellinger (right rib fracture), and, yesterday, Jordan Wicks (forearm tightness) out with somewhat concerning injuries.

Many fans were whining that Hendricks stats were horrible this year. While this is true he has been known to not pitch well in April for his entire career. Some analysts and are suggesting that his back injury is a fake injury much like Jameson Taillon’s injury late last season. There are also a few fans, including my fellow writer here on Double Overtime, who think Hoyer and Hawkins are simply using an injury to do what’s right by Kyle and make sure he gets his 10-5 rights before sending him packing. I beg to differ, when looking over his career stats in April I believe this is a real injury and likely was causing some of his issues out on the mound.

Next, let’s take a look at Smyly’s injury. This is another one where some fans are saying they think it is a fake injury that Hoyer and Hawkins are simply using to avoid Smyly hit his bonuses for number of innings pitched. Yet again, I vehemently disagree because he broke camp with the team as a short reliever and is expected to be a setup man this year.

Now, let’s look at the potentially devastating blow the offense took a few days ago when Bellinger left the game early after attempting to make a catch in left-center and the CT Scan came back showing he fractured his right rib. While he is making light of this injury local reporters are expecting Cubs management to proceed with caution especially considering other position players including, but not limited to, Christopher Morel are playing a little banged up. This could mean that he comes back after his 10-day stint on the Injured List.

Lastly, we have Wicks who was scratched from yesterday start with forearm tightness. While this is concerning because it can lead to a longer term injury which knocks him out for more than just a few starts when asked about it Craig Counsel said he expects Wicks to be back in the next couple weeks.

Here’s the thing folks: The pitching injuries put a dent into the Cubs pitching staff which appeared to be be much better on paper than the last few years. I’d rather see a team that’s supposed to be a contender suffer a bevvy of injuries like this early in the season. For two reasons: It allows for reinforcements to be made through trades in June and July and allows team management to retool using the minor league free agents they signed during the winter while waiting for the injured guys to return.

At the end of the day, injuries are never good. However, “fake” injuries such as the ones which some fans and analysts believe landed Smyly and Hendricks on the Injured List are the best type of injury because it allows players a chance to get themselves straight. That said, I believe the Cubs will battle through this adversity and management will be making moves in June and July to bring in missing pieces.

With that… we are a few hours away from first pitch against the Mets.

If you cannot play with them, then root for them.

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