Cubs Tidbits and Rotation Concerns
It’s been a solid week for North Siders, but marveling at our good fortunes as fans is no fun. Which is why I’m taking a look at one issue that may be atop fans’ minds as we near the end of the first month of the 2017 campaign.
But first a couple of minor items from this week:
- Cubs World Series Trophy travel alert: while the Cubs are taking on the Red Sox in Boston this weekend, the trophy will be on display with the Boston Red Sox’s 2004 World Series trophy as part of the “curse breaking” display at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston.
- Former Cubs outfielder David DeJesus’ transition to Cubs pre- and postgame work with Chicago sports media veteran David Kaplan on Comcast SportsNet has not been seamless, but he’s learning on the job. What have you thought of his performance so far?
Should We Be Concerned About the Starting Rotation?
Cubs pitchers, in terms of ERA, have been right around the league average so far this season at about 3.90. Standing alone, this fact isn’t that alarming, but when you look how much they’ve struggled early in games, it becomes a bit more troubling.
Entering this week, the Cubs had allowed the second-most first inning home runs and total runs in Major League Baseball this season. When you’re constantly forcing your starting rotation to play catch-up rather than allowing them to settle into a groove, that becomes a significant concern.
With that in mind, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that opponents have hit north of .300 against the Cubs in the first inning as well. If our starters have to leave their comfort zone consistently in the first inning, the effects of that can be felt by position players and relievers later in the game.
Yes, it’s way too small a sample size to start worrying about individual pitching performances this early in the season. But Kyle Hendricks, 2016’s MLB ERA leader, has produced a 6.19 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in three starts this season, surrendering 15 hits and four home runs in the process. He’s also issued seven walks in 16 total innings. Not the Kyle Hendricks we’ve grown accustomed to.
What’s your level concern? Is any worrying overblown this early in the season? Should we start to flirt with the idea of trading a prospect for an arm? Or do you fall into the “who cares, we just won the World Series” camp?