What to Make of the 2019 Chicago Cubs Early Season Roller Coaster

cubs_royals_spring_baseball_75032043.jpgPhoto Credit: Chicago Sun-Times

On paper, the Chicago Cubs have one of the most talented rosters in the National League. However, the on-field performance has been nothing short of disappointing so far this season. From a 2-7 start to 8-3 stretch that has pushed the team back to .500, the Chicago Cubs look like they might be turning a corner this season. Let’s pump the break for a second and look at some of the bright spots and black holes of despair that have been popping up so far this season.

 

Jason Hayward

 

Finally, Cubs fans are seeing some offensive return out of the $200 million man to pair with his Gold Glove defense in Right Field. Hayward is slashing .351/.458/.579 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI through 18 games played. So long as Hayward can keep up his hot start, even with a little regression towards his career averages, his offensive renaissance has been an early-season bright spot.

 

Wilson Contreras’s Bounce Back

 

The 2018 season was a bit of a disappointment for Wilson Contreras. After breaking out in the second half of the 2017 season, Contreras was expected to take the leap in 2018 to being one of the top catchers in the MLB. Instead, he regressed and hit only .249/.339/.390 with only 10 home runs and 54 RBI in 117 games. So far in 2019, Contreras has bounced back and is hitting .321/.465/.714 through 19 games while still providing stellar defense behind the plate. Contreras performance both offensively and defensively will continue to help stabilize the Cubs as the season progresses.

 

The Bullpen

 

What a disaster this bullpen is. With no money to spend this offseason due to the massive contracts handed out to Yu Darvish, Jon Lester, and Jason Hayward over the last few seasons, the Cubs were unable to beef up the weakest part of the team coming into this season and it shows. Though the unit has turned it around in the last 10 games, the weaknesses are glaring and will continue to hold the Cubs back from reaching its full potential. Young reliever Carl Edwards Jr. is back in the minors after compiling a 32.40 ERA through just 1.2 IP. Closer Pedro Strop has had just 3 save opportunities in 8 appearances to start the season.

 

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo

 

Bryzzo has struggled to start the season. Both have OBPs above .300, but their below career average batting average is limiting the Cubs offensive potential. On top of their offensive struggles, both have had key errors that have allowed games to slip away through this early stretch. As the two perennial All-Stars in the Cubs core, Bryant and Rizzo need to get their offensive games turned around to help the Cubs maintain their winning momentum

The 2019 Chicago Cubs have been an anomaly, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma through the first 1/8thof the season. Resurgences from Jason Hayward and Wilson Contreras counteracted by a struggling bullpen and the Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo combination has excited and annoyed the fanbase. Despite the 10-10 record, it’s not time to freak out and call for the nuclear option yet, Cubs Fans. The talent and experience on the Cubs roster should find its footing and return the Cubs to the playoffs for the 5th straight year.

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