Ever since the Cubs were eliminated by the Dodgers, we heard how important it was for them to get off to a good start in 2018. And throughout all of Spring Training, every player assured us that the team was focused on getting out of the gate the right way.
It’s clear by now that the Cubs made a conscious choice to approach the first week of the season like it was the World Series. Except they apparently decided to only play Games 1 and 3.
What You Need to Know: I’ve come up with a revolutionary new plan for team building that takes advantage of what might be baseball’s most undervalued asset. If any team ever hires me as a General Manager, I promise to immediately sign 162 different anonymous pitchers who the opposing batters have never faced before.
And my team will win 120 games.
Historically, there is no more foolproof method in baseball for shutting the Cubs offense down. Yesterday it was Dillon Peters. Today it was Tyler Mahle. And it’s going to be really embarrassing tomorrow when the Reds shut the Cubs out by activating 50 Cent.
Am I channeling Chris Rock? Because I’m tired of this shit. Tired, tired, tired.
Tyler Chatwood looked wild but pretty decent today, throwing six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. He issued a ghastly six walks, but somehow limited the damage by making sure four of them took place in front of Joey Votto.
The only run the Reds would need came in the fourth inning when Eugenio Suarez led off by crushing a ball to “deep” center field. (The quotes around “deep” are required for any game played at Great American Ballpark.) Ian Happ overran the carom off the wall, turning it into a leadoff triple. On the very next pitch, Adam Duval topped a ground ball to Kris Bryant for a 5-3 putout.
It was the kind of day where the “Cubs win the World Series” play was what cost them the game.
Next Level: The Cubs are striking out at an unfathomable pace. According to Jesse Rogers, their 58 K’s are the most in baseball history through five games.
They’ve hit their share of home runs, but the Cubs are also maddeningly anemic with runners in scoring position. You might not have noticed it as much today since their solution to the RISP problem appeared to be, “Let’s get two hit!”
This is, of course, an immensely minuscule sample size and hopefully will not reflect what they become by year’s end. But for the time being, you know who they resemble at the plate?
The 2015 Cubs.
There might be a way to help change that around just a little bit. Because after the inconsistent and strikeout prone attack the Cubs lineup took into every game in 2015, Theo Epstein decided the best solution to avoid a repeat was to bring in contact hitting line drive specialist Ben Zobrist.
Lo and behold, I’ve done some research and it appears that Zobrist…get ready for this…is also on the 2018 Cubs. In fact, he walked on five pitches in his pinch hitting appearance today.
We know from last year how Ian Happ’s season follows pretty extreme peaks and valleys. And as we saw again today, sometimes the only way he could look more out of place in center field is if someone happened to cut to his stoic face during a Dave Chappelle special. It might be time to sit Happ and insert Zobrist into a corner spot for a couple days.
Top Play (WPA): The Cubs mounted a two out rally after Zobrist’s walk in the eighth. Happ singled to left for their second hit of the game. And the single greatest offensive play all day was Bryant’s subsequent walk to fill the bases. (+.070) Every sentence in this section is depressing me.
Bottom Play (WPA): Anthony Rizzo proceeded to strike out against Raisel Iglesias (-.176), leaving the bases loaded. Huh. This section didn’t make me feel any better either.
Up Next: The Cubs try to salvage something from this two game series as Jon Lester attempts to last five innings against Cody Reed. Apparently the only requirement to make the Reds’ rotation is to have a first name that would have pissed George Carlin off.
Lead photo courtesy David Kohl—USA Today Sports