By: Alex Patt
The Chicago Cubs have seen much better pitching overall the past week. Going back to last Monday (the home opener), the Cubs are 5-2 against the Pirates, Angels and Marlins. They took their first series of the year against the Pirates which included two shutouts, split against the Angels (finale was postponed due to snow) and took the first two in Miami. Cubs have outscored their opponents 35-14 in that span.
Notable starting performances have come from Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Unfortunately, Jon Lester had to leave the home opener and is on the IL currently, but hopefully he will only miss one start. Quintana’s last two starts saw him go seven-shutout innings, 14 total innings pitched, and strike out a total of 18 batters and only one walk. Hamels pitched eight innings of one-run ball against the Angels last Friday and Yu Darvish struck out eight batters and got his first win of the year against Miami on Monday.
As for the bullpen, they have looked much better as well. Outside of a rough day on Saturday, which ended with the controversial Kyle Schwarber check-swing, the pen has done its job. Pedro Strop got his first save of the season in the Cubs 2-0 win over the Pirates last Thursday. Steve Cishek has not given up a run since his rough outing against the Atlanta Braves back on April 3rd when he walked the bases loaded and they all came around to score. Still not certain when closer Brandon Morrow will return.
Hitting has been up and down for a number of players. Jason Heyward sports a .362 average and 1.096 OPS with Javier Baez hitting .314 with a .942 OPS. Willson Contreras leads the team with six homers and has the highest OPS (1.227) among active players. Backup catcher Victor Caratini, who was slugging the ball to start the season is out 4-6 weeks after having surgery on his hand. Also worth noting Daniel Descalso is batting .341 with the game-winning RBI against the Marlins on Tuesday and last Thursday.
Sadly the two most important hitters, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant and struggling mightily. Bryant is batting .217 and Rizzo is at .169. They will have to snap out of it when the schedule gets tougher.
The Cubs will head back home after Wednesday night and begin a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks starting Friday.