It seems the Cubs can handle playing a game without Kris Bryant in the lineup. They did it in a 7-1 victory Friday over the Brewers at Wrigley Field.
We know they can roll for a bit without Anthony Rizzo. They’re 4-1, with four consecutive wins, while the big first baseman has been out with a sore back.
But can we all agree on this? Just about the worst idea in the world right now would be to find out what life without Nick Castellanos is like.
“My God, he’s the same dude every day,” manager Joe Maddon said after Castellanos belted two more home runs, Nos. 10 and 11 in 27 games — and 27 starts — since being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs.
“I don’t know if he sleeps or not, but he’s absolutely the same person. He’s always energetic. His conversations are always upbeat. He’s never morose about anything. This is just who this guy is. He likes to play, and I don’t see a stitch of fatigue right now.”
The Brewers probably couldn’t detect any in Castellanos, either, when he took Chase Anderson (6-4) into the seats in left with a two-run shot in the first inning. They definitely didn’t see fatigue in the second after another Castellanos bomb. This time, he held his black bat above his head, parallel to the ground, before slamming it with both hands into the dirt.
“Nicholas is Nicholas,” Maddon said. “He’s pretty demonstrative.”
Rivalry meter: cranked up high in a -hurry.
And this on a day that started with the Cubs crawling into their beds at approximately 3 a.m. after returning home from sweeping the Mets in New York.
“Just looking to the boys [in the dugout] and getting fired up,” Castellanos said. “I don’t really have an explanation. I didn’t mean to, like, do that or anything. It just came out.”
It’s all just coming out these days for the 27-year-old right fielder, whose 40 hits and 20 extra-base hits in August lead the -National League. His 11 homers are the most by a Cub in August since Sammy Sosa’s 11 in 2002.
“Oh, man, it’s awesome,” he said. “Not just because of me, but just because of where I’m at and who I’m playing with and where we’re at in the standings and what these two months [mean]. That’s what’s rewarding.”
Plenty of Cubs stepped up to begin a stretch of 23 of 29 games against NL Central foes to finish the regular season. -David Bote, at third base in place of Bryant, reached base four times and scored twice. Ian Happ, batting leadoff — the 11th Cub to do that this season — sparked the -offense with a double that snapped a 22-game stretch for the team without a leadoff hit in the first inning.
Jose Quintana (12-8), who threw 5‰ scoreless innings, came up big, too, before 40,276.
But the game was just the latest example of Castellanos asserting himself as a player — maybe the player — who can lead the way for this team down the stretch.
“What he’s been doing is really impressive for the top of our lineup, a lot of energy,” Quintana said. “I like it when I see him in the box. You feel like really good things are going to happen.”