The sample size is still rather small, but no one expected the Chicago Cubs to start like this. And the fans are letting the team know.
No one said it would be easy. But, few saw this coming. If you did, we didn’t hear it. The Chicago Cubs’ offense is not firing on all cylinders. Nor is the bullpen or the defense. Something has to give before fans re
To this point, the season has been ugly. The Cubs trail the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds in the opening weeks of NL Central play. More troubling is the fact they have yet to win at Wrigley Field. By comparison, the Atlanta Braves have not lost at their new home, Sun Trust Park.
It is time for a few changes. The team must adjust their ways if they hope to return to their self-imposed expectations.
New Cubs Order
The batting order is not working the way manager Joe Maddon hoped. Sure, Kyle Schwarber is reaching base at a .377 clip, but most of that is when there are no outs.
When there are no outs, Schwarber is hitting .333/.407/.625. In contrast, that line drops to .200/.292/.267 when there is one out.
But it is not all on his shoulders. Kris Bryant is not playing at the MVP level he did in 2016. However, he did not start the 2016 season well either. Add to the mix Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist are all batting below .250 and you have the makings of an anemic offense.
The offense needs a spark, and that may lay in the bats of Jon Jay and Albert Almora. Both are hitting above .375 right now, and neither are striking out at the rate the rest of the lineup. While Schwarber is getting on base and working pitchers, the results behind him are grotesque. Batting either Jay or Almora in the top spot may bring balance to the lineup. With Zobrist stuggling, a larger threat is needed in the clean-up spot.
Bullpen woes continue over weekend
This is not the bullpen we were looking for. In keeping with the standards set by the 2016 Chicago Cubs, the starting rotation is the best in the National League. It once again leads the league in ERA and opponent batting average. They are keeping with their expectations and setting the team up well to win.
The bullpen … the bullpen is not giving up hits, but walking batters in what feels like the cakewalk at a fall festival. That is the reason why the lead the NL in loses as a bullpen. It is also why they have a 33 percent save rate two weeks into the game. However, the combination of Hector Rondon, Wade Davis and Carl Edwards Jr, has allowed only one of the 19 earned runs. Mike Montgomery has calmed down a bit, and Koji Uehara is steady.
The rest of the pen has been the main issue. Justin Grimm allowed four runs in his last two appearances versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a few solid outings, Pedro Strop struggled to get an out on April 15. And after one solid appearance, his first of the year, Brian Duensing let the Pirates come back against the Cubs.
The solution? I am not sure there is one right now. The back end of the pen seems solid. The big issue right now is bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the eighth inning. More run support would be helpful, but the bullpen must step up their play. Or else, it could be a long season.