After splitting a wild four games in Milwaukee against the rival Brewers, the Cubs head the Big Apple for a high-profile interleague matchup, taking on the New York Yankees in the Bronx for three games.
A hallmark feature of the matchup will be the Cubs encountering the former face of the franchise in Anthony Rizzo, who was traded to New York amid the team's fire sale in 2021.
Rizzo has remained with the Bronx Bombers since the trade, signing a two-year, $40 million deal with the Yanks ahead of 2023, with the deal including a team option for the 2025 season.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
While Rizzo's absence as a power bat, clubhouse leader and first base defender continues to impact the Cubs nearly two years after the trade, it hasn't exactly been a bed of roses for the first baseman in New York.
After putting together mixed results in 2022, tying his career-high mark for home runs with 32 while posting an abnormally low .224 batting average, 2023 has been up-and-down for Rizzo as well.
Rizzo got off to a torrid start in 2023, showing a combination of power and average he hadn't displayed since his prime seasons with playoff-bound Cubs teams.
Through May 20, Rizzo had slugged 11 home runs, slashing .303/.385/.531, a batting average that would be his finest career mark over a full season.
Since that May 20 contest against the Cincinnati Reds, Rizzo has not gone deep, with much of his other production greatly falling off as well as the Yankees try to keep pace in a historically competitive American League East.
After hitting .282 in April and a blazing .327 in May, Rizzo's offense took a nosedive in June, a month where he was just 13-for-75 with four doubles and five RBI, slashing .173/.311/.227.
In six games to start July, Rizzo has gone 3-for-20 without an extra-base hit, showing a continuation of one of the worst struggles of the veteran's storied career. The extended slump has brought Rizzo's season line to .261/.355/.411, still good for an above average 113 OPS+.
Going homerless in his last 35 games, the Yankees are in dire need of Rizzo's bat, with the team eight games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for first place and in a tie with the Toronto Blue Jays for the third and final Wild Card spot.
Anthony Rizzo is not the only former Cub traded away at the 2021 deadline that has struggled this season, with former Cubs stars Javier Báez and Kris Bryant also facing their own share of misfortunes in 2023.
Báez and Bryant were both among the top free agent prizes in the 2021-22 MLB offseason, with both infielders inking nine-figure contracts with new destinations after rental stays with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants respectively.
For Báez, his offensive struggles mark a continuation of rough hitting that has largely defined his tenure in Detroit after signing a six-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers heading into the 2022 season.
Báez has been well below-average offensively for all of 2023, currently slashing just .226/.262/334 with six home runs and 44 RBI, amounting to a ghastly 66 OPS+, 34 points below league average.
The difference in Báez's offense with the Tigers when compared to his peak with the Cubs has been significant, despite the infielder remaining very productive with the glove.
In 223 games as a Tiger, Báez has totaled 98 runs, 205 hits, 23 home runs and 111 RBI, hitting .233/.272/.371 for an OPS+ of 82.
In 2018, a season in which Báez finished second in league MVP voting to Christian Yelich, the ex-Cubs' shortstop compiled 101 runs, 176 hits 34 home runs and 111 RBI across 160 games, hitting .290/.326/.554 for a 129 OPS+.
As for the former league MVP Kris Bryant, a successful rental stint in the Bay Area was followed by a big-money deal that surprised many when he signed a seven-year contract with the Colorado Rockies worth $182 million.
Bryant's tenure with the Rockies has been marred by injuries, as he's played just 97 games across the past two seasons due to battles with plantar fasciitis and bone bruises in his left foot, an issue that cost him most of 2022 and has persisted into this season.
The injury appears to have impacted Bryant's offensive production, with the slugger managing just 12 extra-base hits in 236 plate appearances in 2023.
As a Rockie, Bryant has hit .280/.353/.417 with 11 home runs and 33 RBI, numbers that amount to slightly above league average.
Although many Cubs fans continue to miss the names that were the most pivotal to a curse-breaking championship in 2016, the dip in production across the board for the former franchise icons gives credence to the argument that the Cubs moved on from their stars at the right time.