[Thursday update: Sick of hearing about Ian Happ yet? Too bad. He may be here to stay. But as I said on Twitter last night, let's be careful in talking about the future of this team. Happ has some serious talent (and I may be in love with him), but today will only be his fifth Major League game. The Cubs have a while before they can give the reigns over to him and be comfortable with moving another player for, say, starting pitching. Let's just enjoy his performance for now, and worry about the other stuff after he's played for more than a week.)
[Wednesday update: Ian Happ looks like a major league player doesn't he? If you haven't already, make sure to check out Patrick Mooney's write-up on his call-up. As Maddon said his postgame press conference last night, we already knew that the rookie would be in the starting this evening against Scott Feldman. I, for one, am very glad I will not be in charge of making the "who stays, who goes" decision once Heyward comes off the DL. I would most likely go with the Oprah Method: "You get a start! And you get a start!"]
The boys are back.
After getting swept by the Yankees at home and then going 2-4 on the road, the Cubs are looking for a little home cooking.
I'm not one to panic this early in the season. How could you? It's the second month of the season, the team has dealt with injuries, and the people that are supposed to be doing awesome baseball stuff haven't been doing the awesome baseball stuff. To put it bluntly, this team has been just....average.
Right now, in almost every offensive metric, the Cubs are at or below the league median. The eye test (and even some sabermetrics) will tell you that they've been poor on defense. Their starting pitching currently has a league worst .322 BABIP and is subpar in almost every other category...
The bullpen, on the other hand, has come through on more than one occasion.
Jared, Dabs, and myself have said it in many a recap so far this season. But this staff of relievers have been put through the ringer and have performed. As a unit, Cubs relievers have the third best BABIP, Wade Davis has yet to give up an earned run, and Carl Edwards Jr. (1.17 ERA) and Mike Montgomery (1.08 ERA) have looked like studs so far.
But what does this mean?
Average offense + poor defense + average starting pitching + stellar bullpen = Meh
And it's not going to get any easier. This Reds team is no joke. They currently sit 2.5 games back from the Cardinals and have a guy in Joey Votto that already has 10 homeruns and 33 runs batted in. John Lackey, Kyle Hendricks, and Jon Lester will have their work cut out for them.
Tuesday: 7:05pm CST on CSN-C/670am
Wednesday: 7:05pm CST on WGN/670am
Thursday: 1:20pm CST on CSN-C/670am
1. Ben Zobrist (S) RF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ian Happ (S) LF
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Javier Baez (R) 2B
8. Jon Lester (L) P
9. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
1. Billy Hamilton (S) CF
2. Zack Cozart (R) SS
3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
4. Adam Duvall (R) LF
5. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
6. Scott Schebler (L) RF
7. Jose Peraza (R) 2B
8. Tucker Barnhart (S) C
9. Amir Garrett (R) P
Bullpen Usage:Opposing Pitchers:
Tuesday: Bronson Arroyo - The combined ages of the starting pitchers for this Tuesday matchup are 78. Both Lackey and Arroyo have gotten around. Arroyo, still rocking the long blonde locks, turned 40 in February. In watching Arroyo the last time out agains the Cubs, I can sum up his performance in one word: annoying. And I say that in all seriousness. Bronson has been relying mostly on his curveball and four seamer. They each sit around 85 mph and 72 mph respectively (dead serious). And back on April 23rd, he struck out 7 (!) Cub batters over 6 innings (that is still a season high). It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but numbers don't lie. I'd put a good amount of money on the Cubs do not let that happen this time around.
Wednesday: Scott Feldman - The former Cubs is having quite a season thus far. He's gone at least 7 innings in his last two starts and went the distance against the Giants on May 7th. Feldman works off his cutter (89 MPH), curve (76 MPH), and sinker (90 MPH). He currently sports a 3.59 ERA and 4.09 FIP.
Thursday: Amir Garrett - The Reds are playing some service time/innings limit games with the 25 year old rookie this year. But he's back with the big league club after being sent down after his May 6th start against the Giants. Garrett has shown some flashes of solid stuff. The highlight being his 12 K game vs. the Orioles April 19th. He works mostly of his fourseamer, which sits in the mid nineties, and has two other offspeed pitches: a change and slider. Baseball Prospectus also calls him a "premium athlete." We'll see how he does in his Wrigley debut.
It seems like Maddon and the Cubs are taking to the new kid, Happ. He's getting another start today, this time in center field. While this is kind of exciting to see, it's also a bit of a bummer not to see Jason Heyward back yet. Because of that, KB gets that start in right and Candelario moves in to play third.
You may want to see the turnaround start now. But I would caution you to not get that disappointed if it doesn't. Injuries are still a concern and the Cubs simply don't have their optimal lineup put together. That being said, they'er a major league team. There are no excuses. (Well, there are. But you know what I mean).