The Chicago Cubs will be without their starting shortstop for the NLCS. The team announced Thursday afternoon that Addison Russell will miss the entire series due to the hamstring strain he suffered in Game 3 of the NLDS versus the Cardinals.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 15, 2015
Russell sustained the injury running out a triple in the fourth inning and left the game. He did not play in Tuesday’s Game 4 clincher.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney) that Russell could return if his team makes it to the World Series. Russell was hitting only .250 with a .696 OPS in the postseason, but is a superior defensive glove at shortstop.
What the Cubs will miss in defense could be compensated for on offense with Javier Baez taking over as the starting shortstop. During the past two seasons, Baez slugged 36 home runs in Triple-A, and hit a three-run homer off John Lackey in Game 4. With the Cubs facing either the Dodgers or Mets in the NLCS, that added offensive boost may turn out to be helpful.
Starlin Castro will remain at second base, where he’s played well since moving to that position. It seems likely that the Cubs will add Jonathan Herrera to the NLCS roster, though he didn’t play much shortstop this season. If Baez were to get hurt or leave a game for other reasons, the alternative would probably be to shift Castro back to shortstop and play Tommy La Stella at second base.