Ed Howard done for year, Nico Hoerner progressing nicely

The Chicago Cubs have a clearly flawed roster. Even before the season began, we knew it would take just about everything breaking right for this team to surprise folks and make a run at a spot in the expanded postseason.

But things haven’t gone that way – and the injuries have really piled up early in the season for Chicago. Here’s a roundup of the latest updates (as of about 9a CT Sunday morning because I haven’t gotten to the gym in a week and am finally dragging myself over there shortly).

First and foremost, left-hander Justin Steele, who departed his last start with a thumb issue, is back and will start Sunday’s series finale in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks. He hasn’t gotten the results he or the club had hoped for to this point (5.32 ERA, 1.776 WHIP in six starts), but some metrics suggest he’s been unlucky, as well (3.76 FIP). Getting him sorted out and in a rhythm on the mound would go a long way toward solidifying the starting rotation.

Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner, who sprained his ankle in a crazy collision with an umpire this week, is already back on the field doing some light work. There’s no timetable for his return to action just yet – but that’s definitely promising. I’m built very different than Hoerner (namely the fact I’m just a tick under seven feet tall), but the last time I sprained my ankle, it took months before it was back to truly being 100 percent.

Hoerner has been a godsend for Chicago this season, especially with the leather, silencing the critics and naysayers who felt he could not stick at shortstop. If he can get things going at the bat, the Cubs may have a long-term infield piece to build around in the years to come.

There’s been no word on Marcus Stroman or David Robertson, both of whom are on the IL due to undisclosed reasons (that, in today’s world, often means a positive COVID-19 diagnosis). Robertson has been lights-out in the late innings and looks like a sure-fire trade candidate if he keeps it up, while Stroman seemed to be settling in nicely his last few times out after a bumpy start to his Cubs career.

Andrelton Simmons is still plugging away at Triple-A Iowa, but the results haven’t been good – especially offensively. He’s just 2-for-24 since joining the team as he works back from a shoulder injury and I just hope and pray he does not wind up being Daniel Descalso 2.0. At least if he is, it’s just a one-year deal, right?

Cubs infield prospect Ed Howard’s season appears to be at an end

Last, but certainly not least, infield prospect Ed Howard appears to be done for the year after suffering a ‘significant’ hip injury while trying to beat out a ball this week.

“Obviously, there’s never good timing for an injury like that,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer told theSun-Times. “But it’s a shame. He worked so incredibly hard this winter; he got stronger than anyone at our camp this winter. And you look at his exit velocities, he brought his strikeout rate down and he’s been playing his typical good defense. It’s a shame that his season’s going to be cut short. “

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It’s a tough blow for Howard, who was looking to really pick up some momentum this year. Hopefully he can be back at 100 percent by next spring and get right back after it at camp.

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