Two weeks ago, the Washington Nationals visited Wrigley Field and took two out three games from Chicago, making the Cubs struggle for a 3-2 victory in the second game before dropping the series in the rubber match. I wrote here about how the Cubs did their best to battle, but that they weren't quite ready to compete with the NL's best just yet.
However, last weekend was a totally different story, and maybe now they are ready to take on teams like Washington, after going to Nationals Park, completely outplaying the Nats, and winning three of the four games. This series was just what the Cubs needed after losing two of three in Miami, and the team is back to five games over .500 heading to Detroit for two games.
I also wrote last week about the possibility of Javier Baez making his return to Chicago's lineup in time to help fill the DH spot the team will have available in several upcoming series, starting tomorrow night against the Tigers. Unfortunately, Baez injured a finger yesterday and will reportedly miss 4-8 weeks. The kid just can't catch a break this year, despite putting up some of the best numbers of his professional career this year at AAA-Iowa (8 HRs, .314 AVG, .922 OPS).
Of course, many are speculating that Kyle Schwarber may get the call from AA-Tennessee, where he is currently hitting .324 with a 1.024 OPS. While I'd love to see Schwarber get the nod, I just don't know if that move is something we could expect to see from Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
The Cubs did receive an offensive boost yesterday when outfielder Chris Denorfia returned from the disabled list and collected three hits to bring his season average to .462 through 26 at bats.
But if the Cubs do call someone else up this week for some extra offense in AL parks, there are other options besides Schwarber. Below are three names we could see in a Chicago Cubs uniform soon:
1. Arismendy Alcantara - Alcantara made the team out of spring training, but managed only two hits in 26 at bats. At Iowa he has played 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and CF this year while hitting eight home runs, collecting 11 stolen bases, and having a .354 OBP. Joe Maddon would enjoy Alcantara's versatility, and he may get another shot soon.
2. Christian Villanueva - Villanueva was once considered to be one of the top prospects in the organization and a top-100 prospect in the league. He is only 23 years old (24 this month), despite currently playing in his seventh season. Like Baez, he is posting some of his best stats this year, hitting .285 with a .344 OBP. He has 12 walks and only 21 strike outs and can play both corner infield spots. I'd like to see Villanueva get a chance at some point this year.
3. Matt Szczur - Szczur went back to Iowa yesterday to make room for Denorfia, so he won't be back this week without some type of injury occurring. But he has had some clutch hits for the Cubs this year, and his numbers at Iowa are very good. With a .330 average and a .923 OPS, he'll get back to the majors this summer.