Despite the New York Mets winning two of the first games against the Chicago Cubs in 2016, the two teams have gone complete opposite directions since last season’s NLCS.
As much as fans of the Chicago Cubs would like to forget last season’s NLCS, doing so is easier said than done. Obviously, the Mets swept the Cubs in four games, advancing to the World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
Although the Mets lost the World Series against the Royals in five games, it seemed that they were poised for a big season come 2016. With six young starting pitchers on the roster, the Mets’ pitching staff was predicted to lead the team to yet another strong season.
While many felt the Mets would have a fantastic season, 2016 has been nothing close to that for the Kings of Queens. Yes, the Mets are in second place in the NL East, but their record stands at 43-37, barely floating above the .500 mark.
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In 2015, the Mets actually had a similar start to their season, going 47-42 in the first half. Yes, the team hung around .500 in the first half both seasons, but 2016 has seen as a sharp decline in offense from New York.
In May and June this season, the team’s record was actually under .500, going 14-15 in May and 12-15 in June. For the season, the Mets’ pitching staff is third in the MLB with a 3.32 ERA. However, the offense has scored just 290 runs in 2016, third-worst in all of baseball.
While the Mets pitchers are dominating on the mound game in and game out, they aren’t getting much support from the offense. New York is averaging 3.67 runs/game, also third worst in the MLB. A team can pitch as well as they want, but obviously, need runs to win games. The Mets have not done so enough.
On the other hand, the Cubs have seen great starts to the season from both their pitching and hitting. Although they have lost eight of their past 12 games, the Cubs have an MLB-best 2.95 ERA in 2016. Opponents are hitting .208 against the Cubs’ pitching, which has given up just 234 earned runs (25 fewer than the Mets, who have allowed the second fewest).
Cubs’ starters Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks all have ERAs under 4.00, including ERAs under 3.00 from Arrieta, Lester, and Hendricks. Simply put, the Cubs have had the best rotation in the MLB so far, all while scoring plenty of runs.
In addition to their successful pitching, the Cubs’ offense has scored 417 runs in 2015, third most in the MLB. As impressive as that is, the team has done so while accumulating just 682 hits, 19th most in the league. The Cubs also have hit the 8th most home runs (105) in the league, led by Kris Bryant (23) and Anthony Rizzo (20).
Obviously, the Cubs are not a perfect team, as they have their own flaws like every team in baseball. Specifically, the team’s bullpen is 10th best in the MLB with a 3.52 ERA, although it does lack a true left-handed specialist. Travis Wood has had a nice 2016 season (3-0, 2.14 ERA), but one can assume Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be shopping for a reliever before this season’s trade deadline.
Besides their bullpen, several Cubs’ starters have struggled to get on track at the plate in 2016. Going into Saturdays’ game against the Mets, three of the team’s starters have subpar batting averages, to say the least. Miguel Montero (.197) Jason Heyward (.232) and Addison Russell (.230) clearly have not had the starts that they would have hoped to at the plate.
Even with these struggles from the Cubs, it seems fair to say that they’ve trended in a more positive direction than the Mets have since last season’s playoff series. Obviously, things can change in the second half (the Mets went 43-30 last season after the All-Star break) but until then, it seems clear that the Cubs have had more success in 2016.