Things are … not going well.
Sure, on the surface, there’s room for reasonable, optimistic reflection: The Cubs are only one-game below .500. It’s still so early. Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and the bullpen have played well. They get another chance against the Brewers this week! Etc. But dig 3 feet deeper and you find some harsh realities:
The Cubs are only one game below .500. Yeah, but they split their first six games with the Pirates, arguably the worst team in MLB, and were outscored 26-19 in the process.
It’s still so early. Yes, that’s true. But a lot of the problems we’re seeing this year are identical to the issues we’ve seen over the past 3-4 years. This is hardly a new team.
But Bryant, Baez, and the Bullpen! There’s bright spots there, no doubt, but even those two guys are striking out WAY too much and the rotation has shown the sort of cracks even this bullpen can’t cover.
As for another chance against the Brewers, that is great. If the Cubs manage to win or (god forbid) sweep this series, the Cubs will find themselves in a much better place. Remember, early wins against the Brewers are especially important. But this series is on the road and against two of the Brewers top starters (Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff), plus another starter, Freddy Peralta, that struck out 8 Cubs while holding them to just 1 hit and 4 walks over 5 scoreless innings a week ago.
There is so much time for things to get better, but the fact is, right now, things are not going well.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (4-5) Had a chance to win each of their first three series, but consecutive rubber match losses to the Brewers and Pirates has left them a game below .500 and with just one series win for the year.
The Milwaukee Brewers (5-4) have won back-to-back series against the Cubs and Cardinals and are on the good-half of MLB with a +5 run differential through their first nine games.
Game Times and Broadcasts Info
• Monday, April 12th at 6:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Tuesday, April 13th at 6:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Wednesday, April 14th at 12:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
Game 1: Adbert Alzolay (R) v. Freddy Peralta (L)
Game 2: Kyle Hendricks (R) v. Bradon Woodruff (R)
Game 3: Jake Arrieta (R) v. Corbin Burnes (R)
• C – Willson Contreras
• 1B – Anthony Rizzo
• 2B – David Bote
• 3B – Kris Bryant
• SS – Javy Baez
• LF – Joc Pederson
• CF – Ian Happ
• RF – Jason Heyward
Unavailable: Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Tyson Miller, Austin Romine.
• C – Omar Narvaez
• 1B – Keston Hiura
• 2B – Jace Peterson
• 3B – Travis Shaw
• SS – Luis Urias
• LF – Christian Yelich
• CF – Lorenzo Cain
• RF – Jackie Bradley Jr.
Unavailable: Bobby Wahl, Justin Topa, Jacob Nottingham, Mark Mathias, Derek Fisher, Tim Lopes, Kolten Wong
By the Numbers:
Cubs: -11 (24th)
Brewers: 5 (11th)
Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 2.89 (28th)
Brewers: 4.22 (19th)
Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.11 (14th)
Brewers: 3.67 (9th)
Keep An Eye Out For …
Enough with the strikeouts. The Chicago Cubs (28.5%) have the third highest strikeout rate in MLB and the single highest in the NL. Even Kris Bryant (25%) and Javy Baez (42.9%), the Cubs top two offensive performers so far, have struck out way too much.
Ian Happ’s mirage. The Cubs leadoff hitter hasn’t gotten off to a great start, but thanks to a relative ton of walks early on (18.8% walk rate), he’s gotten on base enough to avoid a total disaster. But are things actually all that bad under the surface? I’m not so sure. After digging in, I noticed that he’s swinging at far fewer pitches out of the zone than normal (that’s predictable, but a good thing). He’s got a great line drive and fly ball rate. His average exit velocity isn’t topping the charts, but he’s got a higher hard% than he has for most of his career. Combine all of that with a .200 BABIP (career .324), and it’s not hard to see why his expected wOBA (.359) is WAY WAY WAY higher than what we’ve actually seen (.287).
Ian Happ's overall slash line doesn't look great (.160/.323/.280), but after digging in, he shouldn't change anything.
He's swinging at FAR fewer pitches out of the zone than ever, is keeping the ball off the ground, and is making plenty of hard contact: .287 wOBA v. .359 xwOBA.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 12, 2021
Brandon Woodruff is really good. Can he be really good twice in a row? Woodruff held the Cubs to just 1 hit and no walks with 8 strikeouts over 7.0 innings pitched on April 7th at Wrigley Field. I’m desperately hoping the Cubs learned something from that start, because yeesh.