Thursday, May 9, 2024

Finding the Good Inside the Big Pile of Recent Cubs Sh*t

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I just couldn’t muster up the effort to rip everyone last night. I’ve been all over David Ross the last few weeks, but Wednesday’s loss wasn’t on him. You have six outs to get with a five-run lead, relievers have to do their job. Mark Leiter Jr. has been great this season, but he shit the bed and then Keegan Thompson had a blowup in a big spot. Thompson hasn’t been good this year despite some of his results. Get him to Iowa, he needs a resent. I don’t know guys, Cubs are just playing like shit right now.

There’s no way to absolve the team overall. After getting swept by the Houston Astros, the Cubs have now lost five games in a row and they’re 8-18 after starting the season 11-6. At 19-24, the Cubs sit in third place in the NL Central, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates and the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

And this is what really pisses you off, despite all the bullshit, there are still several good things about this Cubs team.

The Stars Are Hitting

I get that Seiya Suzuki kept hitting into double plays in huge spots against the Miami Marlins and he had a rough week or so, but holy shit you would have thought he was the worst hitter in baseball by the way some fans were talking about him. Turns out, Suzuki, who didn’t have a spring training and had a total of 15 plate appearances in his rehab assignment, has actually been pretty damn good outside of his games against the Marlins.

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After going 3-for-3, with two home runs and two walks on Wednesday, Suzuki now has an overall slash line of .286/.372/.491, with five home runs in 129 plate appearances. He has at least one extra base hit in six of his last seven games, including four home runs in his last four games.

Going back a little further, Suzuki is slashing .321/.413/.623 in the month of May. But wait, there’s more. As much shit as he was getting for not coming through in clutch situations, Suzuki is 7-for-14, with two home runs, a double and six walks, plus another intentional walk in 21 plate appearances with runners in scoring position in May.

Meanwhile, Ian Happ is as consistent of a hitter as you can get right now. He leads the team with a 147 wRC+, slashing .303/.422/.467. He has been an on-base machine. In April, Happ had an .840 OPS with a .393 OBP, which is good, but he’s been great in May, posting a .951 OPS with a ridiculous .451 OBP.

Patrick Wisdom was crazy good in April, but he’s come back to earth in May. The strikeouts are way up and the slugging has dipped into the .400s. However, unlike the past couple seasons when Wisdom was boom or bust, he is actually giving the team better at-bats and has not been a complete liability despite the recent regression.

So far in May, Wisdom has a .783 OPS in 48 plate appearances with a 120 wRC+ because he has a .362 OBP despite only hitting .211. At least he’s showing the ability to draw more walks so far this season.

Overall, the Cubs have six of their main regulars since the start of the season with a wRC+ above 100.

And of course one of the best things in recent times has been Christopher Morel.

Yes, I will continue to call out Nick Madrigal and Eric Hosmer.

In eight games, Morel is 13-for-35, with 5 home runs, 10 RBI, 9 runs scored and he’s also added a pair of doubles to his stat sheet.

Cody Bellinger has gone from bad with the Dodgers, to good with the Cubs. Dansby Swanson has been good overall. Yan Gomes has been giving the Cubs unexpected production from the catcher position.

3 Good Starting Pitchers

Tough timing for this, but despite Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman having their worst starts of the season this past week, they’ve been good this year and Drew Smyly has been better than both in the past month.

Here are the trio’s season stat lines through May 18.

Justin Steele
55.1 IP, 2.44 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 47 K, 15 BB
Drew Smyly
50.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 46 K, 10 BB
Marcus Stroman
50 IP, 3.24 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 47 K, 19 BB

Even in the bullpen, which is the biggest problem so far in 2023, the Cubs have gotten consistently good performances from Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay.

Adbert Alzolay
17 Appearances, 22.2 IP, 1.99 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 21 K, 4 BB
Mark Leiter Jr.
18 Appearances, 18 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 28 K, 6 BB

The next three weeks for the Cubs feature matchups against mostly underachieving teams that have their own issues. Besides the Tamp Bay Rays, the Cubs will play 13 of their next 16 games against teams with below .500 records as of today.

May 19-21: @ Phillies (20-23)
May 23-25: vs. Mets (21-23)
May 26-28: vs. Reds (19-24)
May 29-31: vs. Rays (32-12)
June 2-5: @ Padres (20-24)

Get your shit together, Cubs.

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Hester Phaenna
May 18, 2023 12:10 pm

hello

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