“And from April 14 until the end of the season, the Chicago Cubs held the best record in baseball.”
I sure hope I get to write that for real some day.
The Cubs (8-1) will now shift their attention to the Colorado Rockies (5-4) for a three game set at Wrigley Field. Friday is Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball, so look for the players to be donning number 42 in honor of him.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs swept the Reds, have won five in a row and moved to 8-1 on the season. It’s been a really fun start, but this is also what teams like the Cubs are supposed to do during softer stretches of their schedule.
The Rockies are 5-4 and have a two game winning streak of their own – over the San Francisco Giants, no less – but I bet they’re not looking forward to playing in Chicago. The Cubs are still the team to beat.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday April 15 at 1:20 CT on CSN, MLBN
- Saturday, April 16 at 1:20 CT on CSN
- Sunday, April 17 at 1:20 CT on WGN
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
- Kyle Hendricks (2.70 ERA, 2.16 FIP; 5.00 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (1.93 ERA, 3.57 FIP; 12.00 K/BB)
- Jon Lester (2.77 ERA, 3.29 FIP; 4.50 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Jorge Soler, LF
- Miguel Montero, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Chad Bettis (4.38 ERA, 4.67 FIP; 3.33 K/BB)
- Christian Bergman (12.00 ERA, 2.88 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)
- Tyler Chatwood (4.38 ERA, 5.00 FIP; 5.00 K/BB)
Charlie Blackmon, CF (just went on the DL with turf toe, so there’ll be a replacement)
- Trevor Story, SS
- Carlos Gonzalez, RF
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Gerardo Parra, CF
- DJ LeMahieu, 2B
- Mark Reynolds, 1B
- Tony Wolters, C
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
I hate to be repetitive, but Dexter Fowler has been nothing short of outstanding in 2016. So far, he’s slashing an hilarious .467/.590/.733, with a 17.9% walk rate. Of course, this level of production isn’t sustainable, but his 45.5% hard hit rate is leading the team and helps explain the inflated BABIP (.619).
You know who else has been quietly awesome? Miguel Montero. Through his first 30 plate appearances he’s slashing .320/.400/.560 with a .240 ISO and a 13.3% walk rate of his own. But get this, that enormous .240 ISO is just the fourth best on the team (for players with more than 15 PAs). The Cubs are just killing the ball right now, and when they’re not, they’re walking.
Anthony Rizzo (.182/.357/.424) has had a slightly slower start, but he’s paired his insanely high walk rate (19.0%) with a matching strike out rate (19.0%). So even though he has just six hits in his first 42 PAs, he’s been on base 17 times. (This is like the part of an interview when they as you about your biggest flaw and you respond with “I’m a perfectionist.”) The Cubs are good, my friends, enjoy it.
Tyler Chatwood has given up 18 hits (including 2 home runs) in his first two starts of the year, while only walking one batter. So, you might look for the Cubs to be a little more aggressive on Sunday and really attack Chatwood when he’s in the zone. Remember, walking isn’t the goal, it’s just a happy by-product of waiting for a pitch you can drive.
Former Cub D.J. LeMahieu has gotten off to a hot start, slashing .438/.500/.750 in the early going. Even more impressive is that his walk rate (11.1%) exceeds his strike out rate (8.3%). Hopefully, it won’t after facing Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta this weekend.
FINE, I’ll talk about Trevor Story. If you haven’t heard, the Rockies have an exciting story developing (you see how that’s annoying?), as rookie shortstop Trevor Story has mashed a league leading seven home runs already this season (including two off of Zack Greinke). His overall slash line, as you may expect, is an enormous .333/.357/.974 (.541 wOBA), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t red flags. For example, I’m guessing that Story’s tiny walk rate (4.8%) and enormous strike out rate (35.7%) are going to quickly become a problem, once the entirely unsustainable home run/fly ball ratio of 43.8% comes crashing back to Earth.
And I have just the place for that to happen.