Two weeks into the baseball season, and the Cubs have had an…interesting ride. Highlighted by the World Series Banner raising and champion ring ceremonies, the actual play on the field has been better.
While the Cubs took 2/3 from the Dodgers winning 3-2 on an Anthony Rizzo walk off Monday night and 4-0 Thursday, the Cubs were swept by the rival Pirates at home over the Easter weekend. Each game saw great performances from the starting pitching, but let down by lack of offense and huge bullpen struggles. Probably the worst loss was Saturday afternoon on a windy day as the Cubs saw an early 6-2 lead turn into a 8-6 deficit in the 7th inning after Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop were roughed up. Friday and Sunday the offense scored a combined three runs but all had leads evaporate late.
The Pirates series saw Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester all start. Combined 17.2 innings giving up six runs, striking out 11, walking five and giving up 14 hits. 12 of the 18 runs scored by the Pirates this last series were off Cubs bullpen pitchers (11.02 combined bullpen ERA vs a 3.14 combined starters ERA). This was the first sweep to the hands of the Pirates at home since 2014 after only losing one total home game vs the Pirates all year last year. A very frustrating series.
With the inconsistency of the offense, there are some good things happening. Anthony Rizzo is batting .409 on the home stand with a home run and a walk off single off Kenley Jansen. Kyle Schwarber has seven walks and five hits in this home stand sporting a .393 OBP in this young season. While Kris Bryant has been very up and down, he did homer twice Saturday looking to get things going.
The 6-6 Cubs will begin a home series vs the Milwaukee Brewers tonight.