Happ is returning after spending the minimum amount of time on the IL with a rib contusion. Before that, Happ got off to an uncharacteristically slow start with the bat, evidenced by a .167/.307/.250 line with two home runs in 109 plate appearances. Happ’s strikeout, groundball and fly ball rates have all trended in the wrong direction, which helps explain his poor production, though he has dealt with some bad fortune. The 26-year-old’s .245 batting average on balls in play is easily a career low, and he’s well above average in such Statcast categories as hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity.
This is the second time since the end of March that the Cubs have designated Vargas, who has appeared in nine of their games and taken 24 trips to the plate this season. The 29-year-old has batted .143/.250/.238 with no home runs.