The Cubs got swept by the Dodgers over the weekend in Los Angeles.
That’s bad, but not unexpected given that the Dodgers are by far the best team in the National League and the Cubs ... aren’t.
The Cubs were in every one of the four games and with a bit of luck (and better relief pitching) might have won two of them, or even three.
That’s where we stand right now with the Chicago Cubs. Their offense is basically league-average. They’ve scored 376 runs (league average 372). Their team OPS is .720 (league average .707). Their team OPS+ is 101, which by definition is one point above league average. Thus if they had league-average pitching, they’d probably be that .500 ballclub I thought they might be this year. But... team ranks in pitching: 27th in runs allowed, 25th in ERA, 25th in ERA+, 25th in WHIP... you get the idea.
Fix the pitching, sign or trade for a couple of hitters and the 2023 Cubs could be much better.
For now, here’s this week’s three up and three down.
Seiya Suzuki announced his return in a big way
Suzuki hit .333/.391/.667 (7-for-21) over the week since his activation from the injured list, with a double and two home runs, including this inside-the-park job in Milwaukee [VIDEO].
Perhaps more importantly, he struck out only once in 23 plate appearances last week against some pretty good pitching. That’s encouraging, as Suzuki’s K rate had been pretty high before his finger injury.
Marcus Stroman’s comeback
Stroman has missed a lot of time due to placement on the COVID-19 list and then a shoulder issue. His start Saturday against the Dodgers, four innings, two hits and one walk with no runs allowed, was very encouraging.
Now let’s see him do that at Wrigley Field, where he has a 9.33 ERA and 1.691 WHIP in four starts so far this year. His next start should be in the upcoming weekend series against his old team, the Mets.
Keegan Thompson’s consistency
Thompson had a couple of really bad outings in a trip through the AL East last month, but since then in five starts: 2.25 ERA, 1.071 WHIP, 35 strikeouts and only one home run allowed in 28 innings. He threw very well in his outing against the Dodgers on Friday.
Oh, no, Rowan Wick
Wick, in 13 appearances since June 13: 9.26 ERA, 6.45 FIP, 2.572 WHIP, three home runs allowed in 11⅔ innings. He allowed runs in eight of those 13 outings, had a blown save and was directly responsible for four losses.
Wick has options. The team should send him to Triple-A Iowa to work on whatever’s wrong with him. Or if he’s injured, put him on the IL and fix whatever’s ailing him.
Willson Contreras made the All-Star team, but...
... suffered another hamstring injury and missed four games over the past week. Then he went 0-for-9 on his return.
Contreras is the starting catcher for the NL in the All-Star Game. I find myself hoping he’ll play two, maybe three innings, have one at-bat and then get the rest of the night off.
David Robertson’s trade value
Sure, maybe teams won’t look at a couple of bad games and think, “I won’t trade for this guy now!”, but Robertson did not distinguish himself on the Cubs’ just-completed road trip. He blew two saves, giving him five for the season, and thus singlehandedly turned what might have been a 5-2 trip into a 3-4 trip.
Honestly — what are the Cubs going to get for two months of a 37-year-old reliever who’s probably not going to close for whatever team might be interested in him?
Give the Cubs a grade for the 2022 season to date.
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