So here we are on April 12th and the Cubs have played 10 games. While it’s certainly not a big enough sample size to judge the team as a whole I think its enough to at least break it down a little bit.
As you should know the Cubs entering today sit 5-5 tied for second in the NL Central with the Pirates and Brewers and sit 2 games back of the first place Reds. It’s not a bad start, but its not a particularly good one. None of the first four teams the Cubs played are over .500 and you would like to be a little more than just .500 when having the schedule the Cubs have had, but after last year being .500 is like a dream come true.
Cubs are seventh in the NL thus far in terms of OPS with a .744 OPS. The Cubs rank 5th in OBP and also 7th in SLG thus far. Considering the team I think this is pretty good thus far. I didn’t expect the Cubs to necessarily be an above average offensive team so to be just above average is great.
If I told you that our 2B OPS 10 days into the season would be the highest of any position on our team you would have called me crazy. Well its happened. The 2B OPS is the only position over .900 and in fact is 1.006. That’s pretty remarkable. Also four of the other 7 positions are above 800 (2B, SS, LF and CF). Unfortunately the other 3 positions are really struggling. RF has a .523 OPS but does have a .342 OBP. I think that bodes well. 1B also has a nice OBP despite a terrible batting avg. Soto is having a rough first 10 games, but his BABIP is below .200 and he should come back to normal before too long.
Offensive MVP: Could it be anyone but Starlin Castro? I mean the guy has been a beast thus far, and is definitely the catalyst for this offense.
Surprise offensive player: I am just going to call it 2B. I always knew Jeff Baker could hit LHP, but not this well. Darwin Barney is also playing well and the two of them have taken 2B from the biggest hole on this team to thus far the best offensive position on the team. Hopefully it can last.
I really thought the rotation was going to be the bright spot of this team. Then Cashner came out of the game. Then we find out Wells has an injury, and all of a sudden it doesn’t look so good. The Cubs sit 14th in the NL in starting ERA, but a bright side is they sit 4th in K/BB ratio and also sit 4th in xFIP. This points to either poor defense or bad luck. It’s too soon to make that decision, but I think it is a little bit of both. Not only has the injury big hit, but the other 3 SP’s have not been good. Dempster, Garza and Zambrano all have ERA’s above 5 after two turns through the rotation (Dempster has 3 starts). This does not bode well when the only starting pitchers who have looked really good thus far are on the DL. Luckily it sounds like they won’t be out long and can come back and make this rotation stronger.
Matt Garza has looked decent, and has been striking out people like Carlos Marmol. He has given up a lot of hits, but those should start to find gloves eventually, and hopefully he can settle down and start to look better for the team.
Casey Coleman really struggled in his first outing and James Russell gets his first start tonight. Those two have got to pick it up in the month of April if the Cubs are going to try and compete this year. It will be interesting to see how Russell does tonight in his first big league start.
The bullpen has been slightly better with a 3.33 ERA which puts them 8th in the NL. The bullpen has been led by Marshall and Marmol again. Marmol has blown one save but outside of that has been fantastic and collected a four out save just last night.
Jeff Samardzija has really struggled thus far. Not only is he allowing an earned run an inning, but is allowing 3 base runners an inning. The long brightside to Samardzija is he has only allowed one hit. I still believe he can be a solid middle reliever. Part of it could be because I live in the shadow of the Golden Dome at Notre Dame university, but I do think he can be decent still. He has got to work on his control though.
Grabow has looked alright thus far, but I still have trouble breathing when he takes the mound. Kerry Wood has looked OK thus far other than the homerun, and Mateo has pitched pretty well, but has only been put out for very short spurts at a time. He has appeared in 5 games already, but only pitched 3 innings. Probably good to start him off slow.
Pitching MVP: I am going to give it to Sean Marshall. If Wells or Cashner not gotten hit I think one or both of them would have been the star, but I think Marshall has been the star of the staff.
Pitching surprise: Well there are two, and both involve Garza. First off I am amazed Garza has gone two games and not given up a home run yet. Its also amazing that over half of the balls in play off of bats against Garza are landing for hits. The last three years Garza’s BABIP against has been right at .270, but this year it’s sitting at .541 so twice the number of hits as he has usually given up. So there is a bright side to Garza thus far.
Final Summary: The Cubs have looked okay. If Marmol can shut down the Pirates the Cubs are 6-4 which sounds a lot better than 5-5. Woody also blew a lead to the Brewers. The Cubs have been in most the games, but haven’t won enough of them. The Cubs have a very easy April and need to go on a run here. The run of games against the NL West will show a little more of what this team is made of. Hopefully things are still positive at the end of April.