Chicago Cubs get Jorge Soler’s best professional series in NLDS
For the Chicago Cubs’ Jorge Soler, the National League Division Series was a week-long coming out party in which he wowed the baseball world.
Soler has long been mentioned as one of the elite prospects in the Cubs’ farm system. While admittedly overshadowed by the likes of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber as those two climbed through the Minors, the potential has been painstakingly evident in the outfielder’s game.
But the success never came – at least not how you thought it would. This was a guy who was supposed to be one of the better offensive talents in the game, with an arm and speed to match.
Now, it’s time to rewrite that narrative.
After reaching base in his first nine plate appearances of the series, Soler did it with his right arm on Tuesday night, cutting down St. Louis catcher Tony Cruz at the dish after Brandon Moss lined a ball to right-field, tying the game 4-4.
What was the difference for the young outfielder in the NLDS as opposed to the majority of the regular season? Pitch selection.
Soler often got hung up on breaking stuff out of the zone, allowing more seasoned pitchers – like the Cardinals’ Game 4 starter John Lackey – to exploit him and keep him off-balance. But in the postseason so far, he’s controlled the zone, finding the pitches he wants – and driving the ball all over the diamond.
In Game 3 on Monday night at Wrigley Field, Soler clubbed one of the team’s postseason-record six home runs, showcasing the power that once made him such a highly-sought after prospect.
What people may not realize is that he hasn’t drastically underperformed in his first year-plus in the big leagues. His 162-game average is actually pretty respectable:
.268/.325/.433 – 19 home runs – 87 RBI – 34 doubles
This season, after missing time due to injury late in the season, Soler hit a career-high 10 home runs, driving in 47 runs in just 101 games.
Last year, he came up to Chicago with a bang, launching a home run against the Cincinnati Reds in his first Major League at-bat, finishing the year with a .903 OPS.
Something seems to have clicked with Jorge Soler – and at just the right time for the NLCS-bound Chicago Cubs. He’ll be a key for a team looking for its first World Series appearance in 60 years; and if he’s hot, watch out.