We Haven't Seen Cubs Baseball Like This Since 2014 (Technically) and Other Bullets

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We Haven’t Seen Cubs Baseball Like This Since 2014 (Technically) and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Last year, the Cubs didn’t lose their 7th game until May 11, when they’d already banked an unthinkable 25 wins. This year, just six. That doesn’t mean they’re in for a free fall in 2017 – streaks and slumps happen throughout the season, and we just more often put emphasis on the ones that come first – but it is such a stark difference that I can’t blame fans for feeling angsty.

  • I saw a stat last night that Cubs have now lost four in a row at home for the first time since 2014, and I also know that they were not under .500 after the first game of the season in 2016 or 2015, so basically, the Cubs are as bad right now as they’ve been in over two years. I guess that’s technically right. Doesn’t sound right, as I’d stack this 2017 team up against the 2015 club with confidence, but I suppose you’re talking about two very good other Cubs teams right there in 2015 and 2016. What about the 2014 team? Eh. The Cubs might find themselves around the .500 mark for a little while as players settle into a groove, but I doubt they’ll be mirroring too many more 2014 era things by the time the summer rolls around.
  • That 2014 team, by the way – which featured the real turning point of the rebuild – was not all that bad. Although they finished well out of the race, they were basically a .500 team in the second half. Fun(?) fact? That team hit .239/.300/.385 on the season, which is good for a 91 wRC+ when considering the ballparks and the offensive environment. This year’s club has started out at .242/.330/.360 … also good for a 91 wRC+. That year’s club didn’t have this team’s defense, though, and it shows in the pitching line: 3.92 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 3.70 xFIP in 2014; 3.28 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 3.86 xFIP in 2017.
  • A trio of former Cubs/current Royals received their World Series rings yesterday at Wrigley Field:

  • It was another hard contact, hard luck night for Jason Heyward, who ripped a single in his first at bat (exit velocity not available), and then hit three more at 86.7mph, 97.3mph, and 100.0mph (as well as a foul ball he yanked hard and deep into the right field corner), with nothing more to show for it. I still like what I’ve been seeing. Getting that consistent, line-drive stroke back seems to be the first step in Heyward’s comfort with his adjusted swing. And then as he and the weather warm up, perhaps we’ll see a little more slugging.
  • Interesting aside (for now) on Heyward’s night: that final liner was a sure single to right, but the Brewers had an extreme shift on with the second baseman playing shallow right field. It’s not a shift we’ve typically seen against Heyward, and more notably, it was not the positioning you’d expect to see against a guy with pull-side groundball tendencies and good speed (any number of bouncers to the right were going to be trouble). The Brewers have been on the vanguard of shifts in recent years – are they already buying Heyward’s line drive stroke? It was interesting. That’s all.
  • The Cubs currently sport an eight-man bullpen after the return of Carl Edwards Jr., and that was the number we long expected them to be at in April until the Tommy La Stella/Matt Szczur decision pushed the Cubs to temporarily begin the season with seven in the pen. It’s unsurprising, then, to hear Joe Maddon say that they team is considering sticking with eight relievers even after La Stella is ready to return from the bereavement list (Cubs.com). To do that, the Cubs would have to option La Stella to Iowa, or subject Szczur to waivers.
  • Something small and off camera that didn’t impact the game, but could have:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.