Cubs Week in Review: 4/11 – 4/17 – Seiya Suzuki continues to rake
Here’s your Chicago Cubs week in review for the first full week of the season. The Cubs split both series, two games with the Pirates and four with the Rockies. Seiya Suzuki continued to punish baseballs with gleeful abandon. (Numbers in parentheses are NL rank this week.)
- Record: 3-3., .500 (T-8)
- Runs scored/game: 7.33 (7) Runs allowed/game: 4.67 (10)
- Player of the week: Seiya Suzuki, 1.059 SLG, 314 wRC+
Suzuki continued to put up video game-like numbers this week; at this point, it’s probably harder to find an offensive leaderboard that doesn’t have his name on it. He’s proven he can crush fastballs, so pitchers will start feeding him offspeed stuff in the coming days. His rate stats will certainly come down, but if he can adjust to the new patterns of attack he might be able to make an improbable MVP run. And Suzuki had plenty of help this week: the Cubs had seven hitters with a wRC+ over 140.
On the hill, Drew Smyly had a good two-start week, surrendering no homers and achieving an astonishing grounder rate of 56.7 percent. As noted in the Marquee broadcasts over the weekend, the Cubs have had Smyly emphasize throwing his best pitch, the curve, more often. Smyly’s curve usage is a whopping 45.8 percent this season, a rate more traditionally associated with fastballs. Smyly has been a homer-prone flyball pitcher during his career; if he can retain even some of this week’s gains he’s destined for mid-rotation success.
Struggler of the week: Rafael Ortega, .179 wOBA, 8 wRC+
Yikes. Like most non-Suzuki Cubs outfielders this week, Ortega floundered; only Jason Heyward had a wRC+ over 100. But Ortega’s performance was particularly abysmal because he didn’t hit or walk. Roster Resource has Ortega platooning with Clint Frazier in the DH slot while Michael Hermosillo platoons with Heyward in center. This is probably what David Ross has in mind, but it’s possible these four roster spots will generate little or no value. The pressure to bring up Brennan Davis if he gets off to a fast start in Iowa could be enormous.
What we learned last week
Starters are not going deep anywhere in the majors thus far. Smyly had two starts this week, but pitched a total of just 9 2/3 innings. The Cubs are averaging 77 pitches per start, a hair over the league average of 76. Here’s a list of MLB pitchers who have thrown at least 100 pitches in a start this year: Nate Eovaldi.
Jim DeShaies noted over the weekend that Ross has almost entirely avoided using any reliever on back-to-back days, but that will get increasingly difficult as games pile up and the bullpen sorts itself into trusted and distrusted arms. How Ross starts ramping up the starter’s innings will be an intriguing focus over the next 2-3 weeks.
Last week the Brewers drilled Cubs hitters four times in three games. This week Cubs opponents hit one batter (Hermosillo) just once in six games.
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What we questioned last week
Dinger. Does the world really need an “anthropomorphic purple triceratops?”