Kris Bryant: Bryant has been off to a blistering start to open the season, and has undoubtedly been the Cubs most impressive player thus far. This week, he went 7-for-17 with three doubles, four runs, two runs batted in, two walks, and four (!!) hit by pitches. Bryant improved his slash line to .352/.493/.611 on the season, and has already been worth 1.0 fWAR. We’re only halfway through the month of April.
Javier Baez: El Mago. You can argue that he doesn’t have the best approach when he steps into the batter’s box, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most electrifying players in all of baseball. Javy only went 5-for-20 this week, but all five hits were for extra bases, including four home runs to go along with 10 runs batted in. Baez also had game tying, bases clearing double in the nine run inning against the Braves, which leads me to my next point...
Nine-Run Innings: I’ll admit, I was one of those people who turned the game off early. Boy, am I kicking myself for it now. Down 8-1 and 10-2 at various points throughout Saturday’s game against the Braves, the Cubs scored nine times with two outs in the eighth to win 14-10. Nine times.
Albert Almora Jr.: Almora only had eight at-bats this week, but he made the most of them, going 4-for-8 with a home run, a double, and tallying four runs. Since neither Jason Heyward nor Ian Happ are lighting the world on fire, I hope Joe continues to give Albert more chances with the bat.
Kyle Hendricks: Hendricks has been the most consistent starter of the bunch this season, and he had another solid start against the Pirates on Thursday. Hendricks pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. Hendricks struck out seven, but was bitten by the long ball twice. I’ll take two runs over six innings out of my starter seven days a week, and twice on Sundays.
Kyle Schwarber: After finding himself in the Penny Stock portion of the list last week, Schwarber had a solid week both at the plate and in the field, going 5-13 with a homer, a double, four runs batted in, and two walks. Schwarber’s line for the season now sits at .238/.347/.524, good for 133 wRC+.
Daniel Vogelbach: I know, I know, the man that was supposed to be traded for Mike Trout is no longer with the Cubs anymore. But he hit his first Major League home run on Friday, and followed it up with another one that barely got over the wall on Saturday. It’s been a long time coming for Vogelbach, having been drafted by the Cubs in 2011, and seemingly being stuck in Minor League purgatory with Anthony Rizzo entrenched as the Cubs first baseman. Way to go Dan!
Addison Russell: Russell had a rough week at the plate, going just 2-for-17 with a double and five strikeouts. He did have four walks, so that’s encouraging. Look for Russell to rebound this week.
All Starters Not Named Kyle Hendricks: For the second time in three weeks, the starters outside of Hendricks were a disappointment. Tyler Chatwood, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana combined to pitch 17 innings and gave up 20 runs, good for a 10.59 ERA across the four starts.
April Weather: The weather postponed two games this week, the home opener and Sunday’s game against the Braves. Maybe the plethora of early season postponements this year is what finally forces Major League Baseball to take a serious look at shortening the season.
Clint Hurdle: Calling out one of baseball’s most entertaining players for not respecting the game? Hurdle clearly still has demons from the 2015 Wild Card Game.
Buy: The lineup misses Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo’s presence in the lineup has been sorely missed, even if he wasn’t mashing before he went on the disabled list. Rizzo’s return to the lineup will be much anticipated for this seemingly all or nothing lineup.
Sell: The lineup is dependent on Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs survived without Rizzo in the lineup, going 5-4. Kris Bryant has shown the ability to carry an offense on his back before, and a combination of Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, and Willson Contreras offer the ability to put runs on the board, even without Rizzo in the lineup.
Buy: The starters have been underwhelming thus far. Outside of a strong series against the Brewers, the starters have underperformed to start the season. Chatwood, Lester, Quintana, and Darvish are all sporting ERA’s over four, and they have combined for just two wins in eleven starts.
Sell: It’s time to panic about the starters. We’re still just 14 games into a 162-game season, just eight percent of the season in the books. Still a lot of time, and warmer weather, for the starters to turn it around.