The Chicago Cubs started their season playing in front of fans at Wrigley Field for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. They dropped their Home Opener 5-3 before winning the next two by scores of 5-1 and 4-3. Their 2-1 start was matched by the Reds, as the Brewers, Cardinals and (obviously) Pirates all went 1-2 to start the season.
Let’s get to this:
Craig Kimbrel. The much-maligned reliever has faced six hitters so far, striking out 5 and getting the last one out as well. Granted, it’s the Pirates. But after his strong finish last season, there’s at least a real cause for optimism.
Kris Bryant. His wind-aided home run on Saturday seemed to get him to relax a little, and he spent the rest of the weekend spanking the ball, even going to right field for an RBI single. He’s already got over 20% of last year’s home run and RBI totals. Hell, he’s even got 11% of last year’s hit total. If he starts in on a serious salary drive, it could be good news for Cub fans this year before the sad goodbye.
Jake Arrieta. 6 innings with 5K for the Cubs first quality start of the season. It wasn’t an oil painting, as there was some pretty solid contact. But the Cubs’ overarching strategy this year is to lets guys hit the ball and let the defense clean it up. So at least for Jake on Saturday it worked.
Zach Davies. He was absolutely cruising through 5 2/3 innings, before giving up two single wrapped around a Colin Moran home run. He just missed the quality start, but was able to get the Cubs into the late innings with a lead, so he did his job.
Ian Happ. He sat on Saturday with a lefty starting, but he’s been been going all the good things that he did last season. In 9 plate appearances he’s walked three times, adding a single and a home run.
32 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. This has been a big glaring hole for the Cubs for years, and the three guys leading the parade – Willson Contreras (6) and Javier Baez and Joc Pederson (5 each) are guys who will also have periods this season of being locked in. Baez showed on Saturday that he’s still a guy who can make things happen even while the ball is in the yard. He singled, then stole two bases before scoring on a Jake Marisnick blooper that made it over a pulled-in infield. But the high strikeout totals need to come down to something that everyone can live with. Hovering around a 30% K rate ain’t it.
David Bote, starting second baseman. Bote can hit some, and last year when Bryant was hurt he actually had flashes of being a really good third baseman. But there were a couple plays this weekend where Nico Hoerner’s glove was missed. One where he played deep in a shift, and he didn’t come up on a grounder that enabled the runner to reach first safely. Another was again in the shift, where he had to go to his backhand, and wound up looking pretty atrocious. Hoerner needs the looks at the plate on a daily basis, so that’s why he’s in Iowa. But man, there’s a huge difference with the leather.
It seems like every time Marquee (Fuck you Oleg) showed fans in the stands, there were no masks. There would be one guy holding a beer while surrounded with other maskless people. I wouldn’t care, except that people still acting the damn fool after a year of everyone working at home and not being able to go out and have any type of social life because they’re doing the right thing are going to wind up being stuck at home needlessly because of other people not thinking about the greater good – wear your damn mask, get your damn shot, and we can all get back to the ballpark, bar, restaurant, etc. Get your shit together, people.
Next up is another three game set at the Friendly Confines, this time against the Milwaukee Brewers. Trevor Williams, Adbert Alzolay and Kyle Hendricks are scheduled to take the ball.