It’s been a shaking start to the season for the Cubs, going 4-5 in their first nine games and coming off an embarrassing series loss in Pittsburgh. Chicago currently has the worst team batting average in all of baseball at .167. Things have not gone well and we’ve unfortunately watched a ‘new’ take on the old offense we’ve seen in the past. However, with all of the bad so far, let’s take a look at some of the positives we can extract, as well.
While the offense and starting pitching hasn’t been ideal, there are pieces of this team that have shown through that give us hope for the season to come. Patience at the plate and the bullpen have been the two bright spots for this group so far.
In terms of patience, the Cubs currently own a team walk rate of 10.8 percent, good for sixth in all of baseball. Although it hasn’t contributed to much scoring, it’s encouraging to see the team finding ways to get on base. We only hope that the plate discipline will start to translate to more run scoring but in the mean time we have to appreciate little signs this offense is giving us.
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The other positive we’ve seen so far and really the most exciting part of this team has been the bullpen. They currently lead the league with 13.22 strikeouts per nine innings and are fourth with a 2.20 ERA.
The resurgence of Craig Kimbrel has really led this group, with 4 2/3 scoreless innings and nine strikeouts to start this season. He’s shown he can be the Kimbrel of old and that, if the Cubs offense can get him into position, closing out games will be a lot easier than it’s been the past two seasons.
As exciting as the bullpen has been, the harsh reality is that if the team can’t get to the bullpen with the lead in hand, their performance won’t matter at the end of the day and we could see arms like Kimbrel turn into trade pieces at the deadline.
Cubs need to produce offensively – period.
On paper, at least, this team has the potential to compete for a division title. But none of that will matter unless the offense wakes up and starts performing.
The future of this team will be determined by the trade deadline and if they don’t start winning, the front office may not give this team a chance to right the ship. If guys like Bryant and Kimbrel continue to perform in losses, we may see their days in Chicago draw to a close sooner rather than later.
Given how early it is, I’m still optimistic about what this team could be. We know the bullpen will keep us in games and the rotation has enough to give the offense some more time to get things going. The bats have always been the major red flag on this team and we just don’t know if things will get better since this is a pattern.
As we progress into the season, let’s hope this group stays patient at the plate and that the bullpen continues to dominate. I think there are some big performances just around the corner.