Chicago Cubs April Recap

The Cubs are 16-12 through their first 30 games which is good enough for 2nd place in the NL Central. They sit 3 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who visit Wrigley Field this weekend for a 3-game set. The Cubs started the season 1-6 and had pitching issues that had the fans clamoring for the Cubs to sign free agent closer Craig Kimbrel. They righted the ship however after a message was sent through the locker room and that message had a poster boy – that player was Carl Edwards Jr. He was ineffective and sent down to AAA. That seemed to jump-start the team as after his demotion on April 6th, and the placement of World Series hero Mike Montgomery to the IL that same day. They called up little known arms lefty Kyle Ryan (10 innings and 16 strikeouts) and righty Allan Webster (9 innings and 7 strikeouts). Together they have helped stabilize the bullpen leaving doubt who will be sent down once Edwards and Montgomery are deemed ready. 

Bright Spots:

Javy Baez– .314, 10 HR and 24 RBI. Javy seemed to pick up where he left off after his 2nd place NL MVP last season and also plays perhaps the smoothest shortstop in the league.

Jason Heyward– .329, 5 HR and 16 RBI Jason is finally showing the bat the Cubs hoped they were getting when they signed him prior to the 2016 season. He also has more walk (17) then strikeouts (14).

Willson Contreras– .301, 8 HR and 19 RBI’s. He’s showing that last year was a fluke and he can indeed be the next generation in a powerhitting catcher.

Cold Streaks:

Kris Bryant– .225, 3 HR and 14 RBI’s. Kris Bryant had a down year last season after a mid-season shoulder injury seemed to zap him of his MVP level power. He has seemingly found his stroke but still needs to improve that average and the power will come

Anthony Rizzo– .231, 7 HR and 20 RBI’s. Don’t let the numbers fool you, he just started clicking on this last road trip hitting 3 of those homers. He still needs to get that average up make more contact as he has 20 strikeouts compared to 16 walks.

Yu Darvish– 2-3, 5.02 ERA. At least he made it through the month healthy after an injury riddled first season with the Cubs, he just needs to be available every fifth day. Not walking 22 in 28.2 innings might help to.

Biggest Surprises:

The Cubs announced 2 extensions on the eve of the season – one for David Bote, he of the walk-off heroics and another to “The Professor” Kyle Hendricks. Bote has carved himself out a niche on this team to the point where the veterans are giving them their playing time. He has earned a solid spot and role on this team, hitting .261, 3 HR and 14 RBI’s making his new deal (5 year/15 million dollars) a bargain if he keeps this up.

Hendricks meanwhile has been more teachers’ assistant then professor. His numbers are cause of concern (1-4, 5.33 ERA) but his control is still there. He has just 8 walks in 25.1 innings, but his lack of overpowering stuff might be his downfall as he has allowed 37 hits over that same span. His deal, while still team friendly (5 year/55 million), is still going to be a burden if he can’t make the adjustments he needs to. I for one believe he can right the ship as he was tasked with starting the 2 biggest games in recent Cubs history ( 2016 NLCS Game 6 and World Series Game 7). When it’s all said and done, the contract will look like a steal for the Cubs, since by the end of the deal he will be the staff ace.

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