Through their first 9 games, the Cubs slashed .281/.364/.447 (135 wRC+, 2nd in MLB) with a 19.6% strikeout rate. Through their last five games, the Cubs have slashed .188/.280/.285 (69 wRC+, 25th in MLB) with a 28% strikeout rate.
And even the best among them have struggled:
Seiya Suzuki has officially hit a little rough patch: 1-11, 4BBs, 6Ks. Still not whiffing that much though. Just needs to be a little more aggressive on strikes in the zone.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 23, 2022
The good news is that Seiya Suzuki is still spitting on pitches out of the zone better than just about anyone in baseball and he’s not whiffing much. If he just gets a little more aggressive on pitches in the zone, we might see that production tick back up quickly. With his ability to identify pitches and make solid contact, I’m not worried. It was just more fun when he was crushing.
Another weird trend so far: Ian Happ is hitting over .300 and has an OBP over .400 … but is hitting for almost no power at all this year (.051 ISO, .359 SLG). That’s an unusual combination for him. I think the extra at-bats as a righty, the 13.0% walk rate, and the small sample can do most of the explaining here, but it is weird. But, hey, he’s got career bests in strikeout rate (23.9%), average exit velocity (92.2 MPH), hardhit% (57.1%), and contact rate on pitches in the zone (86.4%). The main problem then is too many grounders/not enough launch angle, but if that’s all the effect of leveling off his swing for more contact we might be approaching a really nice balance for him.
And all that brings us to Kyle Hendricks, who followed up a nice start to the year against the Brewers with three straight duds, including one against these very Pirates a little over a week ago. When is he going to turn it back on? I have no clue. Pittsburgh tagged him for 6 earned runs on 7 hits and 4 walks the last time they met, so my confidence level is pretty low at the moment.
But, hey, the sun is shining, I’m wearing shorts, and Cubs baseball is on the air. Life could be worse.
Pittsburgh Pirates (7-7) at Chicago Cubs (6-8) – Saturday, April 23 at 1:20 CT on Marquee, 670 The Score
Pirates: Zach Thompson (R)
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (R)
Chicago Cubs (Lineup Discussion):
1. Rafael Ortega, DH
2. Seiya Suzuki, RF
3. Willson Contreras, C
4. Ian Happ, LF
5. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
6. Jonathan Villar, 2B
7. Jason Heyward, CF
8. Alfonso Rivas, 1B
9. Nico Hoerner, SS
1. Daniel Vogelbach DH
2. Bryan Reynolds CF
3. Michael Chavis 3B
4. Yoshi Tsutsugo 1B
5. Diego Castillo RF
6. Ben Gamel LF
7. Kevin Newman SS
8. Josh VanMeter 2B
9. Andrew Knapp C