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The 2018 season has gone well for the Cubs thus far, and not so good for the White Sox. The teams are obviously in different phases of their development but both have some things go right and other things go, not so good. I’ll take a quick look at some of the ups and downs in Chicago baseball thus far in the 2018 season. Optimistic guy that I am, I’ll start with the positives.
What’s Gone Right
Javy Baez’s ascension to being one of the best players in baseball. Javy has always had a good tool box, but he’s really starting to use them effectively. He currently leads the NL with 72 RBIs. His OPS of .892 is nearly 100 points higher than last season’s. And, of course, nobody plays with the same flair as Javy. He’s becoming the face of the team.
White Sox starters are showing progress. While the Sox first half has been dismal, there are some encouraging signs. Carlos Rodon has been outstanding coming back from an injury and Reynaldo Lopez is progressing nicely. Even Lucas Giolito, he of the 6.18 ERA is coming around. The Sox have the foundation of a decent to good rotation, with more help on the way.
The improvement of the Cubs outfield. Sure Jason Heyward is enjoying a renaissance, but Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber have shown improvement. The Cubs came into the season with question marks throughout the outfield, but those have been answered nicely. The improved outfield play and emergence of Javy Baez have helped offset the disappointing showings of free agent starters, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood.
Jon Lester’s reemergence as an ace. While the Cubs have had problems in their starting rotation, Lester has been an anchor for the staff.
Omar Navaez has been a productive catcher. This one shocked me. Navaez was awful early on, leading the AL in passed balls, while hitting under.200 with no power. Omar has raised his average to .286 with a little power. His OPS is up to .771.Kevan Smith has also done a good job as part of a platoon arrangement with Navaez. Wellington Castillo’s suspension hasn’t been as detrimental as I would have thought.
What’s Gone Wrong
Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood haven’t panned out. Even after spending a ton of money on starting pitchers and the solid work by swingman, Mike Montgomery as a starter, the Cubs are still looking for a starter. My favorite would be Cole Hamel.
Anthony Rizzo has had a terrible start. Rizzo has been one of the most consistent players in baseball over the last few seasons, so his slow start was a source of concern. I wondered if he was having back issues. His play just before the break has helped alleviate some concerns.
The White Sox outfield has been a mess. Injuries have played a part in this. Adam Engel played center field on a regular basis is not a good thing. Avisail Garcia has really swung the bat in limited action, but “limited action” is a reoccurring theme with Avi. Leury Garcia and even Nicky Delmontico could help if they stay healthy.
Nate Jones is down again. Between monumental meltdowns resulting in Reynaldo Lopez not getting a win to show for some great performances, Jones did some decent work. He’s the Avisail Garcia of the pitching staff. He may or may not return by the end of July. I would guess not.
The White Sox farm system has been riddled by injuries. While it hasn’t affected the team at the major league level, injuries to some of the Sox top prospects has slowed their development and made following the team somewhat less enjoyable. Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Dane Dunning and Jake Burger have been headliners on Sox farm system injury reports.
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