As the Cubs gear up for the next week where they will play back-to-back series against the two teams trailing them in the NL Central standings, they will reportedly get some reinforcements on the roster in the form of Ian Happ.
Des Moines Register Iowa Cubs beat reporter Tommy Birch reported Thursday afternoon that Happ is on his way back up to the big leagues after being sent down to Triple-A in the final week of spring training and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirmed the move on 670 The Score. No word yet on what the corresponding roster move will be.
Happ got out to a rough start to the season in the minor leagues, but has turned it on of late and his overall line — .242/.364/.432 (.795 OPS), 16 homers, 53 RBI, 66 runs — looks pretty solid now.
In back-to-back games on June 30 and July 1, Happ went 0-for-9 with 3 strikeouts and watching his season batting average with Iowa drop to .217 and OPS to .715.
But since then, Happ is hitting .348 with a 1.129 OPS and nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (18) while mashing 10 extra-base hits, including 5 homers.
This is exactly the type of extended hot streak the Cubs have been hoping to see from the former first-round pick.
"The attitude is fantastic. He's working hard," Hoyer said of Happ last month. "It just feels like a matter of time until he goes on a run and gets back to where he was before. We're kinda waiting on that a little bit — he's waiting on that. But given the work he's done and where he is mentally, I think that's just a matter of time."
Happ looms as one of the Cubs' top trade assets — a 24-year-old switch-hitter who can play multiple positions and already has proven he can hit with power and speed at the big-league level.
He also represents valuable depth for the Cubs, especially if Kris Bryant has to miss any time at all in the near future with the right knee injury that forced him out of Wednesday afternoon's game in San Francisco. Happ has experience playing third base, including filling in at times for Bryant a season ago.
The Cubs just sent Addison Russell down to Triple-A Iowa Wednesday, so there is also conceivably room for Happ to see some playing time at second base, though Robel Garcia figures to remain in the picture as well.
There's also room for Happ in center field, especially against right-handed pitchers as Albert Almora Jr. has been in a funk offensively for the last couple months.
The Cubs are struggling on the road and it's officially "go time" in a tight divisional race, so they can use all the help they can get at the moment.