3 important things we've learned about the Chicago Cubs at the season's 30% mark

Nearly two months into the 2024 campaign, how you look at this team is probably quite a bit different than it was back on Opening Day.
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Less than a week out from Memorial Day, the Chicago Cubs are just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central, despite suffering what feels like more injuries than every other team in baseball.

The club should get some reinforcements this week in the form of Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner, two critical cogs in the machine, which will hopefully help jump start an offense that has cooled dramatically of late, batting just .182/.266/.310 over the last seven days.

So what have we learned about this team two months in? Let's dig a little deeper and hone in on some key takeaways we've garnered from watching the team so far this season.

Cubs starting rotation is loaded with unexpected breakout performers

Heading into the year, if I told you the Cubs were just out of first in late May because the rotation had pitched well, you would have assumed Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon and Kyle Hendricks had stepped up and held their own.

Well, all three men have spent time on the IL, with Steele having made just four starts and Taillon six. Taillon has been solid, while Steele is still looking for his rhythm on the mound. Hendricks is dangerously close to, at the very least losing his spot in the rotation and maybe the 26-man roster due to poor performance.

Instead, it's been newcomer Shota Imanaga who has put the team on his back, emerging as a legitimate NL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young front-runner, making history in his first nine MLB starts. And don't sleep on what Javier Assad has done, pitching to the third-best starter's ERA in the league in his first nine outings.

Injuries have sidelined depth pieces like Jordan Wicks and Drew Smyly, and losses in the bullpen have pulled Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski into relief roles of late. But, all told, the rotation has exceeded any and all expectations, with its best performances coming from some unanticipated places.