2 truths and 1 lie about the 2023 Chicago Cubs season so far
Lie: The Cubs rotation needed another free agent arm to be successful
It's admittedly frustrating that the Cubs didn't come away from the 2022-23 offseason with a new ace of the club like Carlos Rodon or even Kodai Senga in tow. There's no doubt a high-level arm would've lengthened this rotation considerably, turning it into one of the better groups in the game. However, I still believe they have the talent to hang with some of the league's better lineups.
Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele are the stars of the show so far, sporting a perfect 0 and near-perfect 0.75 ERA respectively across their first two starts. That is way too early to come to any definitive conclusions, but they largely track with what the two were able to do throughout the back half of last year. Both pitchers only seemed to get better as the year went on with Steele, in particular, sporting one of baseball's best fastballs by spin rate and dominating batters with a well above-average barrel rate. This year, neither pitcher has been barreled yet.
In fact, this rotation as a whole has been good so far at limiting barrels, even if the numbers don't necessarily show it. Jameson Taillon, for example, struggled in his first two outings, but there's evidence he hasn't pitched nearly as badly as it seems. His xwOBA of .273 is considerably better than the average of .326 as is his hard-hit rate. That passes the eye test, especially when looking at his start against the Rangers. He still racked up seven strikeouts in that start with strong control only to be burned by questionable defense and some crummy hits. It would not be surprising to see him get better results as the season drags on.
I expect this rotation will surprise the league with how effective it is at limiting some really good offenses even without a dominant ace. Early on, the Cubs pitchers have shown an ability to miss bats or, at the very least, induce BAD contact on a consistent basis. That's without mentioning the potential of Hayden Wesneski to breakout or any other arms to come up and perform from the minors.