Nothing like opening up the season against your biggest rivals. The 2017 Cubs started things off right against arch nemesis St. Louis, winning two in a row after losing the opener to take the series 2-1. Here are the most noteworthy things that occurred.
The Starting Pitching Looks Great
The starting pitching picked up right where it left off, keeping the team in every single game. If not for two defensive miscues in games 1 and 3, the trio of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey would have given up only one earned run. However, even with those errors the Cubs’ starting staff ranks 2nd in WAR and each was excellent in leaving runners on base.
Defense Impacted Games, For Better or For Worse
Following historically one of the best defenses of all time was going to be a challenge. However, the Cubs have uncharacteristically made a few errors that they normally do not make, one of which ended up playing a huge part in the opener. Granted the culprit, Javier Báez, claimed that a white sign obstructed his view of the groundball, the play should’ve been made and it cost the Cubs a run that ultimately ended up making a difference in the game. In the finale, Ben Zobrist dropped a sure-fire double play ball on the transfer that ended up costing the Cubs three runs. Another drop by Pedro Strop at 1st almost ended up hurting, though Carl Edwards Jr worked his way out of it. Nevertheless, the team’s defense also made some spectacular plays that saved games, none more impressive nor important then Albert Almora Jr.’s home run-robbing catch in game 2:
Look for the defense to look more like that.
Kris Bryant Struggling Out of the Gate
Look, Kris Bryant is a tremendous baseball player. He’s also human, which means he is prone to err. So far this season the reigning NL MVP has started off 0-13 with six strikeouts. There’s no sugar coating it: he’s sucked. Whether it’s mechanical or a case of the yips remains to be seen, but the fact that the team has won two of three games without their best player doing hardly anything offensively is a testament to the strength of this team. He did however make some nifty defensive plays in game 2 which played a big part in preserving the win, so at least his whole game hasn’t slumped.
Kyle Schwarber Sparkling in Leadoff Spot
Someone who isn’t struggling is Kyle Schwarber, who’s showing just how productive he can be in the leadoff spot. His patience at the plate has lead to long at-bats, walks and of course a patented Schwarbomb. His .500 on base percentage is what’s important here, and if he can keep being passable in LF then it’s going to be a fun season to watch what he can do with the bat.
What’s next: The Cubs open up a three game series tonight versus the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at 7:15 CT. The cancelled game on Wednesday allowed Joe Maddon to flip the rotation, tabbing Arrieta to start on Sunday instead of Lester, who will start the next day against the hapless-against-lefties Los Angeles Dodgers. Brett Anderson and Kyle Hendricks will make their season debuts tonight and tomorrow, respectively.