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May 2 update: What’s gone wrong... and right for the 2022 Cubs so far

Here’s another interim look at the ballclub.

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Last Monday’s article titled “Ten percent of the Cubs 2022 season is complete. What’s gone wrong... and right?” turned out to be a popular place to check out my views on the season so far and express yours, so I decided to do it again today.

This won’t happen absolutely every Monday (or every week), but since there’s an off day today before the Cubs take on the White Sox, I thought I’d post some thoughts again and let you have at it.

First, a reminder that all 30 teams must submit their roster cuts, down to 26, by 11 a.m. CT today.

The Cubs did so not long after Sunday’s game ended:

That leaves the Cubs with 13 pitchers and 13 position players on the active roster. It’ll be four starters for the next week or so, with two off days this week the Cubs don’t need a fifth starter until May 10 at San Diego.

Now, here are five things that seem right with the Cubs so far, as well as five that don’t.

David Robertson is a lights-out closer

This might be the Cubs’ best signing of all for this season. Robertson is not s long-term solution for the club at closer. He’s 37, and maybe has one more good year in him after 2022. But this year, so far? He has faced 36 batters and retired 30 of them. He’s allowed one hit — a single on Opening Day by Willy Adames — and five walks. He’s struck out 14 in 10 innings and converted five save opportunities with no blown saves, and hasn’t allowed a run.

Is this sustainable? Probably not, but if his workload is managed, Robertson appears to be back to the level he was when he was a solid closer for the Yankees and White Sox in the mid-2010s.

Alfonso Rivas is making the most of his opportunities

Again, this is a tiny sample size, but when he has started a game this year (six games), Rivas has hit .444/.524/.611 (8-for-18) with a home run.

I’d say he’s earned more time in the starting lineup.

Marcus Stroman appears to have righted the ship

Last two starts: 13 innings, eight hits, three runs (two earned), one walk, eight strikeouts. Over those two starts his season ERA has dropped from 8.78 to 5.13. Prediction: It will drop some more when he starts again, likely Saturday against the Dodgers.

Scott Effross is an anchor for middle relief

Effross leads the team in relief appearances with 10. He’s allowed runs (two) in just one of those outings, and has allowed seven hits (one double) and one walk. In fact, in his brief (to date) MLB career, Effross has faced 95 batters and walked just two, with 30 strikeouts. Those are really good numbers.

Not bad for a 15th-round draft pick.

Keegan Thompson does it again

Thompson has made 230 pitches in five outings this year, an average of 46 per appearance. He’s faced double-digit hitters in all of them, and allowed one run — that was to the Braves last Wednesday. He’s struck out 17 in 16⅔ innings.

Now, this begs the question: Should he be in the starting rotation? The answer is unknown at this point. Thompson’s largest pitch count in any of the five outings is 56. That’s not going to be enough to be a successful starter. On the other hand, the Cubs appear to need a guy like this who can bail out starters who get in trouble early. Thompson has done this extremely well, so why mess with success?

Now, what sort of things do Cubs pitchers and hitters need to work on?

Kyle Hendricks had a really bad start last time out

And he did this last April, too. Kyle finished April 2022 with a 5.47 ERA in five starts. He was worse last year — 7.54 in five starts, including 10 (!) home runs allowed in 22⅔ innings. It’s somewhat less bad now, just four homers in 24⅔ innings.

It should be noted that after April 2021, Kyle went on an 18-start run in which he posted a 2.89 ERA and allowed just 12 home runs in 112 innings. I don’t see any reason he couldn’t do that again.

He’ll start Wednesday against the White Sox. So far this year, Kyle has a 1.62 ERA in three starts at Wrigley Field (no HR allowed) and a 13.50 ERA in two road starts (four HR allowed in eight innings). We have seen home/road splits like this from him before. If that’s an issue, I hope he figures things out soon.

Willson Contreras is not throwing out base stealers

Contreras has thrown out just two of 12 runners trying to steal against him, and that’s way down from previous years. His career CS rate is 29 percent, which is above the league average of 27 percent.

I’m not sure what’s happening here and it could partly be due to pitchers not holding runners well enough. But this needs to be fixed.

Justin Steele needs to fix whatever’s causing him to walk so many hitters

Steele threw very well against the Brewers in his first start April 9, but since then he’s just been bad — 7.62 ERA, 2.308 WHIP and 10 walks in 13 innings. In those four bad starts he hasn’t been able to get past the third inning in any of them, and he threw 79 pitches in three innings April 24 against the Pirates and 74 in three innings April 30 against the Brewers.

That’s just not going to cut it.

Michael Hermosillo probably needs to head back to the minor leagues

He’s just not hitting — 2-for-24 with 12 strikeouts is not going to keep you in a MLB lineup. Granted, he hasn’t gotten as many chances as he might, just seven starts in 22 games. And he is probably the Cubs’ best defensive outfielder.

But unless David Ross can find more places for him to play, he’s probably not going to stick with this team.

Seiya Suzuki is in a slump

We knew this was going to happen at some point as Suzuki adjusted to new pitchers and umpires and ballparks. Over his last 12 games: .182/.265/.250 (8-for-44) with three doubles and 15 strikeouts.

He’s hitting slightly better at home (.323/.463/.484, 10-for-31, one HR) than on the road (.244/.340/.561, 10-for-46, three HR). The two-homer game he had in Pittsburgh April 12 pushes his road SLG higher than his SLG at Wrigley, while the other numbers are better at home.

Suzuki is talented and we have seen him take good approaches to his at-bats. He’ll come out of it.

Conclusions

This team is 9-13. Their Pythagorean record is 11-11 because they are exactly even in runs scored and allowed (96). Nine and 13 reflects the team’s performance pretty well and I continue to maintain that when all is said and done for 2022, the Chicago Cubs will be right around the .500 mark.

Poll

Give the Cubs a grade for the season to date.

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    B
    (70 votes)
  • 60%
    C
    (525 votes)
  • 27%
    D
    (237 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (37 votes)
872 votes total Vote Now