WASHINGTON — Amid a team-wide offensive slump, the Cubs plan to promote Triple-A Iowa’s Matt Mervis ahead of Friday’s game at Wrigley Field, a source confirmed to Athleticism, ending speculation about the left-handed slugger who burst onto the scene last year. Now the questions will revolve around how Mervis will handle major league pitching and whether he can impact a roster that clearly needs a jolt.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The Cubs lost five of their first six games on a road trip to Miami and Washington. That streak included four one-point losses that dampened some of the energy and excitement surrounding the team’s overall strong performance in April.
- Now 25, Mervis made his way onto the prospect radar last season hitting .309 with 36 homers, 119 RBIs and a .984 OPS in three minor league affiliates.
- Mervis — a two-way player at Duke who saw his senior season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic — became a priority signing for the Cubs after he was not selected in the 2020 five-round draft .
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What will Mervis bring to the Cubs?
After struggling in 2021, Mervis entered the following season acknowledging that he had started to “chase the numbers” when he got into a funk, which led to deeper struggles. With renewed focus and a decision not to overthink his swing mechanics, he broke out in 2022. He accelerated through High A, Double A and continued to rake at Triple A.
Mervis’ big season hasn’t completely swayed all skeptics, however. Although he made a few prospect lists, he was far from a consensus top 100 prospect. There are scouts still wondering if he will be overwhelmed by the best fastballs and breaking balls he will see at the highest level. But others like what they see in his batted ball data and believe the work he is doing will continue to allow him to adjust and cover holes.
Mervis responded by continuing to dominate Triple A this season. He posted a 140 wRC+ in 24 games, once again increasing his walk rate (16.1%) while rarely eliminating (17%). He also looked better against the left-handed throw, something he was once blamed for.
What he may be in the big ones is still in question. Will he fade quickly, be a strong and solid squad bat, or can he be an All-Star quality power bat? With the Cubs getting below average production at first base and DH, it’s become apparent that it’s time to see what he can be. —Sharma
Why call Mervis now?
Earlier this week, Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins reported that the Triple-A performances of Mervis and Christopher Morel have become part of everyday conversations within the baseball operations group. Calling Mervis looked like a matter of when, not if, although the club have some initial reservations about how his play will translate to major league level. Unlike, say, Kris Bryant or the other young talents who helped fuel the 2016 World Series run, Mervis isn’t exactly a top-notch prospect.
These decisions are never a reaction to a single game, but it was hard to ignore the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss at Nationals Park, when designated hitter Eric Hosmer was bunted with no outs and two runners on. the base. The Cubs haven’t scored in this situation, lowering their batting average with runners in running position to .143 (7 for 49) in the first six games of this road trip. Bringing up Mervis is a way to change the subject and build some energy before the frustrations really start to build. — Mooney
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(Top photo: Allan Henry/USA Today)