The Chicago Cubs are off to one of the best starts in over 20 years, having won their first three games for the first time since they won their first four games in 1995, a feat they can match tonight in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Over their first three games, the Cubs have scored 29 runs and 34 hits. They are beating down opposing pitchers early in the season, something they hope will continue as the season moves on. They are doing so by taking a patient approach at the plate, making pitchers work and build up their counts. They are waiting out the pitchers, waiting for their pitch. In the process, they are also boring the opposing defenses to death making them wait for something to happen so they can make a play. However, with the Cubs new approach, and stacked lineup, they are not able to make too many plays. Actually, they are only watching the Cubs circle the bases. This is one of the most exciting teams I have seen in a long time, and the season has only begun.
While the opposition may not be the top caliber talent they will need to beat if they want to win the division, make the playoffs and win the World Series, but you can only play who is in front of you. The real test will begin in a week and a half when they face the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals for the first time. Despite their 0-3 start, they are still the Cardinals. After that, the Month of May will be the real test as the Cubs will face some of the top talent in the game.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, they could well be without Kyle Schwarber for a while. Last night in Arizona on a deep fly ball off the bat of Jean Segura led to both Schwarber and Dexter Fowler going for the ball in an attempt to make the catch, or at very least cut the ball off to limit the damage. Neither man called the other off, as neither thought they would make the catch.
“The ball was literally in no-man’s-land. It was in between us. We both thought that person wasn’t going to get the ball. You only call it if you think you can get it. We both went at it. I was pretty close.”
Schwarber would go though initial tests, and was able to get to his feet before being carted off the field. Thankfully, the x-rays showed no broken bones, leading the Cubs to give the initial indication that he had a sprained ankle. He will have an MRI tonight, with results know at some point tonight. Either way, he is likely headed to the disabled list, with Munenori Kawasaki likely being recalled as Iowa Cubs beat writer Tommy Birch says he is nowhere to be found in the I-Cubs clubhouse.
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) April 8, 2016
While losing Schwarber is a big loss, the Cubs have enough depth that they can survive without him in the short term, and maybe even in the long term if need be.
In their three games, they scored all 29 runs and collected all 34 hits without the aid of Schwarber who was hitless in the season opener, did not play in game two and left before taking an at bat in the third game.
Instead, the Cubs have relied on Fowler, Kris Bryant and the leader in the clubhouse Anthony Rizzo as the main contributors to the offensive explosion. Actually, just about everyone on the team has contributed to the offensive routes the first few games.
As far as the pitching goes, Jake Arrieta picked up where he left off in 2015, and Jon Lester is looking just as good, though he did give up that run. Then you have John Lackey who got knocked around pretty good in his Cubs debut. His very first pitch in a Cubs uniform left the yard when Segura made contact. In all he gave up six runs in his first three innings, before settling in and going three more without giving up anything else. He knew he sucked, and made no excuses.
“The story is about the offense, man, these guys can swing it. Fourteen runs, airtight defense, I’ll take care of the rest. You definitely know with our offense that you don’t have to be perfect,” Lackey said after giving up six runs and lasting six innings. “But I’d like to be better than that.”
While he got battered around, I have to tip my hat to him a bit because he forced himself to get three more innings so the bullpen would not get taxed. I am not too worried about him, and have full confidence that he will rebound nicely his next outing.
Speaking of the bullpen though, while they got rocked early and often in spring training, they have looked pretty good so far giving up only one hit and one walk in seven innings.
Tonight, the Cubs take on the Diamondbacks again. Hopefully, when news of the MRI gets back, there will be good news and Schwarber will not miss too much time.
UPDATE: Schwarber will be out for the year after fully tearing both his ACL and his LCL.
Full ACL and LCL tear for Schwarber. Out for year.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) April 8, 2016
Thank goodness they kept Jorge Soler after re-signing Fowler.