The Cubs are Off to a ‘Lit’ Start in 2019
Diving into issues behind the Cubs slow start
It’s no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy. ‘Cause every now and then I kick the living shit out of me.
What an unfortunately accurate hook for this young Cubs season. Despite the offense’s hot start, led by… ahem… Jason Heyward (who else misses Up, Up and a Hey?) they are sitting at a 5-9 record. While they’ve experienced some bad luck as far as their Pythagorean expectation goes, it just doesn’t feel like luck is the issue. It is hard enough when all you have to face is the other team trying to beat you. When you’re basically beating yourself it’s an even tougher hill to climb.
Two areas where the Cubs have done this are with free passes and free outs. Currently, they lead the majors in walks issued. You don’t have to be a disciple of Moneyball to agree that letting the other team get on base for not swinging (important, you know, because you need to swing to get on base) is not ideal. We are likely due for a positive regression to the mean, but as the Earth turns the sample size grows larger.
Sidebar. Is Carl Edwards Jr just Carlos Marmol reincarnate? If there is someone out there who tossed out that take three years ago, well done. It’s aged like a Dornish Red. I digress, the walks only compound the other issue — errors.
Not only do we now have extra players on base, with our errors we are giving even more opportunities for opposing runs to cross the plate. Quick crash course for my first-timers out there: you win by outscoring your opponent. Didn’t want any confusion with Tiger winning the big golf game(?). Thus far, the errors haven’t cost us an inordinate number of runs. We’re near the top of the league in unearned runs, but being second in the league in total errors it stands to logic. Moreso than the walks, I think this will self-correct. His personal life and ceiling notwithstanding, Addison Russell at second base will be an upgrade over Bote/Descalso/Zobrist. Our fielding is too good not to bounce back.
What’s partially concerning to me is that these two issues have the potential for a synergistic relationship (shoutout corp America). Does the pitcher’s concern over the ability of the fielder to make the out lead to them getting too picky in their pitches result in the walks? Or is it that the fielders are so focused on making every play because the pitcher finally didn’t walk the hitter that they are rushing and making mistakes? Or is it a nonsensical issue I’ve manufactured from scratch with no real credence whatsoever? Who knows man. It’s a Chinese riddle.
Now if you’ll excuse me, a smoke alarm is going off and there’s a cigarette still burning. Please tell me why?
Featured Photo: LM Otero/Associated Press