Must Buy Stocks:
Jon Lester: Lester had a great week on the mound, pitching 11 innings and only surrendering two earned runs. Jon also hit two balls in Sunday’s loss against the Cardinals over 100 mph, so maybe it’s time to give him some playing time in the lineup since nobody else is hitting well. Lester is back to looking like 2016 Jon Lester, the guy that finished second in Cy Young voting.
Kris Bryant: Bryant got off to a slow start after being hit in the head by a 96 mph fastball against the Rockies, but KB is slowly starting to heat up again. Kris was only 6-for-27 on the week, but four of those hits were for extra bases, including two solo home runs. His line for the week was .222/.250/.593, good for 121 wRC+.
Javier Baez: Baez has cooled off a bit after blistering April, but he still had a solid week at the plate, going 6-for-23 with two home runs, also worth 121 wRC+. Javy needs to clean up on the defensive side, as he’s tied for the most errors in Major League Baseball.
Jason Heyward: Heyward had a miserable week at the plate, recording just three singles in 20 at-bats, culminating in a .150/.190/.150 line, worth -8 wRC+. Woof. Heyward made some nice grabs in the outfield, but he also whiffed on a ball he probably didn’t need to slide for in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, which turned a 2-1 lead into a 2-2 tie. Heyward’s line for the season sits at .227/.315/.340 with an 83 wRC+. Sigh.
Luke Farrell: Why the Cubs decided to bring Farrell up instead of someone like Dillon Maples is beyond me. I know, he was supposed to assume the long man duties out of the pen, but when you have someone like Mike Montgomery who can also be utilized in that role, I just don’t get why Farrell is on the roster. In 3⅔ innings, Farrell managed to give up three home runs, including walk-off home runs in back-to-back games. Farrell recorded a 12.27 ERA over the past week, and if he isn’t on his way back to Iowa by the time this article is published, I will be shocked.
Willson Contreras: Like Heyward, Contreras also had a horrible week at the plate. Willy went just 1-for-19, resulting in a .053/.182/.053 line, good for a wRC+ of -25. Maybe it’s time to give Victor Caratini a start or two.
Yu Darvish: Darvish continued his rollercoaster of a season, pitching 4⅓ innings and surrendering five earned runs. He did strike out eight, but he also gave up three home runs. Darvish just hasn’t been the guy the Cubs hoped they would get when they signed him. At least not yet.
The Entire Cubs Offense: Over the last seven days, the offense has accumulated a slash line of .202/.242/.344, worth 57 wRC+. During that time, the Cubs had the lowest walk percentage of any team in baseball at just 5.2 percent. The Cubs have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 11 games, which is just abysmal considering how much talent is on this roster. Let’s hope they can turn it around against as the schedule begins to ease up with games against the Marlins and White Sox on the horizon.
Buy: Joe Maddon is trying to get too cute with the lineup. Joe made a number of head-scratching moves this week with the lineup card. In Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Joe decided to start Ian Happ in center instead of Albert Almora Jr., with Almora being 3-for-5 against Cardinals Starter Michael Wacha. Ian Happ proceeded to go 0-for-4. He also started Willson Contreras at leadoff, a guy who was hitless all week going into the game. He was 1-for-6.
Sell: Joe Maddon is a bad manager. After this past week, I’ve seen a lot of fans calling for Joe’s head. Just like any other person who has managed the game of baseball, he’s not perfect. Some moves backfire, but others make him look like a genius. They just didn’t work out this week. So what. I would still take Joe Maddon over the other 29 managers in baseball in a heartbeat.
Buy: The offense is struggling. As evident in the Penny Stock portion of this article, the offense hit a rough patch over the past two weeks or so. Ranking last in OBP and walk rate over the past two weeks just simply isn’t going to cut it.
Sell: This offense isn’t as good as we thought. Now that we’re inching closer to having one-fifth of the season in the books, we all probably would have hoped that the Cubs would be firing on all cylinders by now. April is notoriously tough on hitters throughout baseball, as many hitters are trying to find their groove at the plate. With that being said, this lineup is bursting at the seams (pun intended) with talent. I believe it’s just a matter of time before they start annihilating opposing pitchers, and it may happen as soon as this week against some easier opponents. Have faith.