The return of Candelario, 29, should provide the Cubs with a boost for the final five games of the 2023 regular season, all of which could prove crucial for Chicago. Entering play today, the Cubs hold just a half-game lead over the Marlins and a 1.5-game lead over the Reds for the final NL Wild Card spot. Candelario was Chicago’s big splash at the trade deadline this year, as they shipped a pair of prospects to the Nationals in lefty D.J. Herz and shortstop Kevin Made to land the infielder’s services.
At the time of the trade, Candelario was slashing an impressive .258/.342/.481 in 419 trips to the plate with 30 doubles and 16 homers. He got off to a hot start in Chicago with a .305/.370/.524 slash line in his first 92 trips to the plate with the club, though he entered a brutal slump for his final 13 games prior to hitting the shelf with a .083/.227/.278 line across 44 trips to the plate. Adding the bat Candelario flashed at the start of his time with the Cubs this year, or even the production from his stint with the Nationals earlier this year, would provide a huge boost to a Cubs lineup that has been forced to rely on depth options like Miles Mastrobuoni, Nick Madrigal, and Patrick Wisdom in his absence.
Making room for Candelario on the active roster is Young, who has looked like a roughly league-average corner bat during his limited time in the big leagues. In 21 games (65 plate appearances) across the 2022 and 2023 campaigns, the 27-year-old rookie owns a .224/.308/.466 slash line with a 29.2% strikeout rate. In addition to those solid small-sample numbers in the big leagues, Young has torn the cover off the ball at the Triple-A level this year with a fantastic .310/.417/.577 slash line in 376 trips to the plate while playing all four corners.
Candelario may not be the only key Cubs piece returning this week, as right-hander Adbert Alzolay told reporters (including Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) that his live bullpen session today went well and that he’s hopeful he’ll be able to return for the final series of the regular season in Milwaukee, which begins on Friday. The return of Alzolay could have an even bigger impact for Chicago than Candelario, as the club’s fWAR out of the bullpen (-0.2) since losing Alzolay to the injured list with a forearm strain earlier this month is bottom three in the majors. Alzolay has excelled in 2023 while stepping into the closer role, racking up 22 saves while posting a 2.71 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 63 innings of work.