The Chicago Cubs starting staff has gotten off to a great start,overshadowed only by new Cub Emilio Bonifacio‘s red-hot debut. While the Cubs have started the season 1-2, the blame can not be placed on the starting pitching.
Following today’s victory over the Pirates, the Cubs have the fourth best ERA among starting rotations in the National League. In three games, one of those a very long extra-inning affair, the Cubs have allowed only two earned runs in 19 innings. They’ve surrendered only nine hits, and have yet to allow a home run. And Travis Wood has yet to take the mound after a breakout season last year. He’ll open up the year for the Cubs at Wrigley on Friday.
While some of the faces have changed, I do take a bit of personal joy in the start by the Cubs. Five months ago I talked about the possibility of the Cubs having the best starting staff in the NL in 2014. While it may have been a little tongue in cheek, I really did believe that, and still do. Edwin Jackson had a horrendous year in 2013. And while he isn’t likely to win 20 games, if he pitches to what I believe is his potential, like in his season debut, the Cubs will be drastically better. Jason Hammell has slid into the spot that I envisioned Jake Arrieta, but had a spectacular debut for the Cubs today.
The other aspect of this is the depth and versatility of this staff. Carlos Villanueva has fallen on some tough luck to start the year, but he is one of the most valuable assets to this team. Whatever Rick Renteria and Chris Bosio ask of Villanueva, he will do. He’s a leader in the clubhouse and has the desire to win.
We’re only three games into the season, there is a long way to go, and anything can happen over a long season. But I do still believe the Cubs’ starters will finish as one of the best in the National League when the final out of the season is made.
It seems as if there is a renewed energy with this Cubs team. Renteria is as engaged in the game as I’ve seen in a manager, and I see a fight in these players to not roll over and be the team almost everyone expects them to be. 159 more to go, but I like the start.