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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, May 06, 2019

That was fun

The first road trip of the season feels so long ago now, doesn’t it?  Coming into the season I was on the more optimistic side of people around here; I still overreacted a little to that piss poor start.  As plenty of people have said, teams are never as bad as they look at their worst or as good as they do at their best.  However, I see no reason to think the Cubs aren’t much more likely really this good - well, not .800 win percentage good, but 95 wins good.  The Cubs have the best run differential (and best on a per game basis by a nice margin); they’re just 0.01 r/g behind TEX for the ML lead (5.9 r/g), and are all the way back up to 3rd in the NL in ra/g (4.26, but it’s 2.77 since that 9 game opening trip). 

There obviously is plenty of offensive regression coming - Contreras, Heyward, and Bote are the obvious candidates, not to mention the utter unpredictability of the entire bullpen.  Javy is a different story, and I’m not going to even begin to try and predict what’s gong to happen with him; he has clearly made improvements yet again from last year (going the other way a ton more), but he’s basically a baseball wizard so he can just do whatever he wants I guess.  Rizzo has rebounded nicely (.340/.438/.774 last 14 games), Bryant’s also rebounding - though more quietly (.277/.444/.596 last 14), and even Schwarber looks better if you cherry pick enough (.320/.419/.560 last 9). 

On the pitching side, only Lester appears to be significantly out-pitching his FIP, but as I mentioned in a comment in the last thread his peripherals are much closer to his good 2016 than his luckier 2018.  Hamels and Quintana appear to be back to the solid, reliable selves and good for Pops giving Hendricks his vote of absolute confidence right before Kyle threw his Maddux.  Darvish continues to be absolutely maddening (is it me, or is he going really out of his way to try and completely avoid all contact?), but the stuff appears to be there - unlike last year, where it seemed like he never had it.  IOW, I think it might be mental with him, and I think the Cubs absolutely should be doing everything they can to try and straighten him out, as he has an upside none of the other SP options can touch.  I saw some conversation in the game chatter yesterday about either a 6 man rotation (wouldn’t be the worst idea, though no one has said anything about it yet) or either Chatwood or Montgomery taking his spot.  First off, I think the Chatwood suggestion is ludicrous; he’s closer to being just released than given a rotation spot again IMO (I’m not completely opposed to a spot start against the right opponent).  Montgomery is just a guy, and I’d only put him in over Darvish if Yu was hurt or completely worthless (and he’s not close to that yet; again, a spot start or 2 is fine).  I’ll be happy to change my mind if Davish doesn’t show any signs over improvement over the next 4-6 weeks. 

The bullpen has once again been a surprising strength.  Almost everyone has had a blowup or two, but everyone’s overall numbers look pretty good which means that they’ve been really good outside of the obvious hiccups.  Kyle Ryan is really flying under the radar, but he looks like he’s solidified a spot in the pen for the rest of the year to me; he’s not just a LOOGY either.  Strop is basically a metronome at this point, one that is consistently underappreciated.  Brach is another version of Cishek, and both have been solid.  Kintzler has bounced back nicely, and I’m inclined to believe what he’s doing is “real” as his bad stretch last year is really the outlier.  I’ll continue to dream on Maples, while also accepting it’s probably a long shot if we ever see Morrow in a Cubs uniform again. 

This team is the 2016 team, and isn’t approaching that level of domination.  But today, you can make a strong argument that the Cubs are in the discussion for the best team in baseball.  That’s about all you can really ask for, and so I’m going to enjoy this ride while it lasts. 

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:11 AM | 432 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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