It’s been two weeks since my last update, and a fair bit has happened in that time, so let’s get down to business.
Taking a look at Alex Avila’s stretch offensively, it wasn’t stellar, but he made the most of it where it counted. Since September 10 he has struck out six times, walked twice, flied out twice, grounded out twice (once for a double play), and collected two singles. One of those singles was an RBI that scored Kris Bryant in the game on September 15, contributing to the 8-2 win over the Cardinals in a major way: it was the run that tied the game in the sixth inning and set things rolling for the big win. He also scored a run in that same inning, narrowly avoiding being tagged out by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
While Avila might just be a backup catcher, this past stretch proved why it’s smart to have a highly capable backup guy on your bench. With Willson Contreras' one-game suspension it was good to know the team had a reliable catcher on hand ready to step into that role.
Contreras served his suspension on September 17, which was one of the two games in which Avila collected a hit. In the case of his September 15 game-tying RBI, Avila was brought on in the fifth inning to catch for former Tigers teammate Justin Wilson. It’s clear that in a clutch situation Avila knows how to maximize his plate appearances.
Avila was also recently featured on “Around the Bases,” in case you missed this little one-on-one chat with former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster.
Fun fact about Avila: Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris called him “George Clooney” because he thought Avila sounded so much like the actor. He claimed Avila’s voice helped calm his nerves. Maybe Avila is a bit of a pitcher-whisperer.
With Contreras once again back in regular rotation, Avila isn’t likely to see a ton of play over the coming week, but the Cubs are playoff-bound, which means the team will need to rely on the depth of their bench more and more in coming weeks if they want to keep their starters healthy.