Now that we’re more than three weeks into the 2023 MLB season, it’s time to revive this series about three Cubs who are hot — and three who are not. Fortunately, at this point in the season there’s more in the former category than the latter.
Nico Hoerner is finally fulfilling his promise
At last 100 percent healthy and with both a position (second base) and batting-order spot (leadoff) his, Nico has been outstanding thus far. His .355 BA ranks fifth in MLB entering Monday’s action, and his .400 OBP, if he can sustain that or something close, is excellent for a leadoff hitter. He’s leading the National League in runs scored with 20.
Nico had a six-game hitting streak snapped Sunday, but he still drew a walk and so has reached base in 20 of 21 games played this year. His .394/.429/.636 week, with two doubles and two home runs, makes him a candidate for N.L. Player of the Week.
Cody Bellinger has remained consistent
After an 0-for-11 start to 2023, Bellinger has hit .348/.425/.638 (24-for-69) with five doubles, five home runs, 14 RBI and 18 runs scored.
It’s still too early to declare him “back” to his previous level of performance, but the recent results are encouraging — and the Gold Glove defense is noticeable.
Justin Steele is leading the starting rotation
For all the good starts Marcus Stroman had before Sunday’s clunker, Steele has been remarkably consistent, allowing just four earned runs in 25 innings, a 1.44 ERA, to go along with a WHIP of 0.880. He’s also struck out 24 in those 25 innings. The Cubs kept Steele on the 40-man roster for a couple of years where he was injured and barely pitched. That confidence in his ability has paid off.
Michael Fulmer... yikes
It’s probably good that the Cubs aren’t playing the Dodgers anymore this year, because Fulmer has been just awful against them: four games, three innings, eight earned runs (24.00 ERA). Against everyone else: 1.42 ERA (one run allowed, to the Mariners, in 6⅓ total innings).
So does Fulmer need an IL stint to work things out? Or is it something about the Dodgers figuring him out that won’t necessarily apply to other teams?
Hayden Wesneski might be on a short rope
Wesneski has made one good start, two mediocre ones and one really bad start. With Jameson Taillon likely back not long after his 15-day IL stint is up, and Kyle Hendricks returning not long thereafter, Wesneski will have to throw well, and soon, to stick on the 26-man active roster. If he doesn’t, a return to Triple-A Iowa for a while wouldn’t hurt.
Luis Torrens does not belong on this team
I’ve been talking about this for a while, you might not agree, but I don’t think the Cubs need to keep Torrens around just to be a third catcher, when: a) he has caught exactly six innings this year and b) he isn’t hitting.
He just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you mess with the 40-man roster for — if he’s waived and claimed, so what? The Cubs have Dom Nuñez and Miguel Amaya in the system if something happens to Yan Gomes or Tucker Barnhart.
Get Torrens off this roster and replace him with Christopher Morel. Morel is crushing Triple-A pitching (.333/.446/.768, seven home runs in 18 games) and can play multiple positions, something else the Cubs need. (I’d much rather have had him in left field Sunday than Patrick Wisdom.)
Who should be the Cubs’ closer?
This poll is closed
Mark Leiter Jr.
Someone else (leave in comments)