The Cubs spent the week on a 6 game road trip with stops in Cincinnati and our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. that saw them go 3-3 with stop. 5-1 or 4-2 would have been an ideal record but oh well, that is baseball. 2 of those losses came when the Cubs squandered a 2-0 lead and a 3-0 lead against the Red Legs, respectively. The Reds have been projected by many to finish in last so losing a 3 game set to them just feels like a punch in the gut. To make matters worse, Javy Baez, the heart of this club, left the game with an injured heel. He looks to come back either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Phillies.
KB had himself a great week. He batted .290 which included a 3 homer performance on Friday. There was some concern in the power department how he would be regarding his shoulder injury, but it looks like he is turning the corner and heating up at the plate.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert is finally getting some consistent playing time. We all know he can hit lefties well, but he has always struggled against the righthanded pitchers which caused him to be a platoon player. Over his last 7 games, Almora compiled a slash line of .414/.440/.750 which was good enough for 10 hits, including two home runs. I cannot see him batting .400+ for the rest of the season but it is great for him to finally be an everyday player.
The Cubs bullpen always had a question mark coming into the season. With Morrow not fully healthy yet and Pedro Strop (hamstring) still injured, the Cubs really have had issues with the bullpen. Kintzler was called upon 3 times this week. In those 3 outings, he pitched 2.3 innings giving up 5 hits and 4 earned runs. The 40th round pick currently has a 1-0 record with a 3.38 ERA and a WHIP of 0.84. Hopefully, this has just been a rough week for him and going forward he can figure things out on the mound.
The Week Ahead
The Cubs open a 7 game homestand with 4 games against the first place Phillies and a 3 game weekend set with the last-place Reds. Javy Baez should be returning sometime this week. I don’t think an IL stint will be necessary. Look for Russell to man the shortstop position until Baez is healthy. The Cubs will face Jake Arrieta, Tyler Eflin, and Aaron Nola. Those are all quality pitchers and it should be a good series with the Phils as Wrigley always gets electric when Bryce Harper comes to town. Cincinnati comes in for 3 games. I expect them to get swept and the Cubbies should handle them with ease. Overall, I think the Cubs go 4-2 or 5-1 on this homestand and I think the starting pitching will continue to be great. Look for Almora to continue to stay hot and look for Baez to come back and give the Cubs a spark with the bat and glove.