With less than two weeks until Opening Day, the Cubs offense is hot.
David Ross is on everyone’s side. Entering into his first official year as the new head of the Cubs, Ross has played cheerleader at various points for both the offense and the pitching. As a balancing act, Ross sees what the battery has been doing to this point, as well as the pitching and figuring out how best to drive success for the shortened season.
So far, the strength has been the bats. Kyle Schwarber is already mashing, and he, as well as Willson Contreras and Josh Phegley all, have two home runs apiece thus far through the team’s intrasquad scrimmages. As Ross knows, as well as the team, their success will be tantamount to whether they hit this year, and that shouldn’t be a problem.
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Chicago Cubs: Leveraging extra work
At the height of the coronavirus, when Major League Baseball officially shut down spring training sites, Schwarber remained in Arizona for extra work at the dish. Along with pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, and Colin Rea, Schwarber leveraged the opportunity into more work. In a piece from NBC Sports Chicago’s Maddie Lee, Ross praised Schwarber for that work and what it’s going to do when the season kicks off hopefully.
"“Those guys who were able to be in that environment are obviously going to be a little bit further along, and you can see it in Kyle’s swing and how good he looks.”"
Schwarber is on the up-and-up and should only benefit significantly from a shortened season. He posted a 120 wRC+ last season, his third straight year with an improved number. Schwarber also lowered his strikeout rate for a third consecutive year and hit 38 home runs. A healthy Schwarber is a dangerous Schwarber.
Hitting coach Anthony Iapoce has given praise to his battery of hitters, too. As every club had the same challenge due to COVID-19, it is about taking advantage of the situation you’re put in and making the best of it. Being in an environment where players can be with only themselves, honing their craft, goes a long way to success as an offense, which will carry the Cubs in 2020.
Chicago Cubs: Pitchers working back into shape
The unfortunate news about Jose Quintana did not help the Cubs and the expectations of their pitching staff heading into the new season. Jon Lester began facing live batters later than the rest of the staff due to his program, and, right now, it seems as though Darvish and Hendricks have been the only consistent starters to this point.
Ross believes in his team. It has never been in doubt as he has been with the same core for five years. The struggle that will befall many organizations in 2020 is the fact that most starters, and relievers, have not received the adequate amount of time to get into game shape. It is why Ross is seemingly investing more heavily in the offense than the pitching.
A 60-game season is perfect for a team like the Cubs. Ross understands his team and knows how to handle challenges that will inevitably present themselves. However, it is all about the offense, and that seems okay for ‘Grandpa Rossy.’