The Chicago Cubs open up a crucial four-game set with the Nationals on Monday at Wrigley. Both teams are off to sluggish starts enter with sub-.500 records. As we know from this offseason, the Nationals could also call themselves the Washington Cubs with the number of former Chicago players on the roster.
It’s worth running through the old friends we will see this series. Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Dave Martinez and Starlin Castro are the former Cubs returning to Wrigley for this series, setting this up to be the most fun series of the season so far.
The Cubs didn’t re-sign Lester and non-tendered Schwarber, instead essentially replacing the duo with the likes of Joc Pederson and Jake Arrieta.
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So far this season, Schwarber is hitting .223 with a .310 on-base-percentage, 0.2 WAR and .720 OPS. Pederson is hitting .264 with a .347 on-base-percentage, -0.2 WAR and .703 OPS. Both guys are heating up for their respective teams and we don’t see too much variance from the two outfielders.
Switching gears to pitching, Arrieta is 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA and 0.2 WAR in seven starts. Lester has only made three starts so far, going 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 0.5 WAR.
Both are very small sample sizes but it’s about what we’ve expected to see at this point. I think the Schwarber/Lester replacements are part of a bigger idea for the makeup of this team. The front office made some important decisions to reshape this roster and they are represented through these players.
Cubs need improved consistency if they want to hang with the league’s best
The hope is that these decisions will pay off and this team will be able to compete. Through 39 games, they’ve shown they most definitely can but consistency is going to be crucial and it starts through the new additions.
The Nationals have a similar makeup as the North Siders, with young talent surrounded by seasoned veterans. The Nationals made a commitment to pitching and we saw that pay off as they won the World Series in 2018. However, with questions currently surrounding their staff, the team will face the same dilemma as the Cubs will at the deadline; buy or sell?
This series will show us a lot. David Ross will roll out Zach Davies, Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams and Adbert Alzolay. We really need to see what this rotation is made of and this will give us the perfect opportunity in a big series without our ace. Lester, Patrick Corbin, Max Scherzer and Joe Ross are set to throw for Washington.
I am intrigued and excited for this series and really believe the Cubs match up well against this team. If Chicago wants to become buyers at this deadline, this is the series to prove its worth to the front office.