Following consecutive singles to open the 4th inning Tuesday night, Rafael Ortega was in bunt mode against Jacob deGrom. After fouling off a slider, Ortega squared again and took a 98 mph heater to the left hand that forced him to leave the game. Michael Hermosillo came in to pinch-bunt and managed to lay down a sacrifice that resulted in loaded bases after a throwing error by the catcher.
Left ring finger fracture for Rafael Ortega. His season is over. Tough end for a veteran who's worked hard for the team the last two seasons and turned into a good example for younger players.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 14, 2022
The Cubs ended up scoring two runs that inning to power their second straight win in Queens, but they also lost Ortega for the remainder of the season with a fractured left ring finger. It hasn’t been an ideal year for Ortega, who managed just 0.5 fWAR over 370 plate appearances and had fewer home runs than TOOTBLANS. He was considered a solid leader, however, and would have been a decent depth outfielder on a better team.
Trouble is, the Cubs are pretty well set in the outfield and have a number of younger players on the come who are going to need roster spots and at-bats. Even though Ortega is still on a rookie contract and under team control through 2026, being out of minor league options means there’s very little flexibility for a team that has a 40-man crunch looming.
If this is indeed the end of Ortega’s Cubs tenure, at least he’s going out on a high note. He singled in his first at-bat against deGrom one night after collecting a homer and single to drive in two runs, giving him a total of six hits in his last four games. What’s funny is that Ortega is the sort of player the Cubs could have used during their previous competitive run and now he may be one of the odd men out as the team is ostensibly heading back toward being good.