I didn’t geek when Theo Epstein and company finally decided to call Kris Bryant’s number on Thursday night to have him start for the Cubbies on Friday. It was more like a sigh of relief and only for a handful of reasons. For starters, the Cubs had a huge hole to fill at the hot corner with Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella out on the disabled list. It has been an utter disappointment with Olt having his stints here and there when he was projected to be one of baseball’s top prospects for the Texas Rangers when he was drafted in 2010; with the Cubs acquired Olt in the Matt Garza deal of 2013. La Stella, another young prospect acquired during the off season for the Cubs, has been shuffled from second base to third before suffering an oblique injury. Enter Bryant, who has been the sensation of the nation kept under the radar since his spring training blowout and finally got to prove that he can hang in the big leagues. The injuries were not the only reasons that I gave a huge sigh of relief. I was happy to see that the Cubs finally had an infield that not only can get the job done with their bats, but defensively too. With the addition of the cubs bringing up Addison Russell this morning, it is looking more and more surreal that the Cubs are looking to be a competitive bunch with a young team for years to come.
However, I am still holding my breath little by little. After taking a series to the Cincinnati Reds and dropping their first to the loaded San Diego Padres, the Cubs dropped from first to second under the shadow of the haunting St. Louis Cardinals whom continue to prevail as division leaders. After a grueling win last night in Pittsburgh, the Cubbies have a long week to go with this series against the Pirates and then traveling to the Great American Ball Park for the first time this season. Three points that I am still worried about are Jon Lester trying to get comfortable as this team’s ace in the rotation, the bullpen finding quicker solutions for closing out close games, and Kris Bryant finding his feel as a clean up hitter in the batting order.
Lester is still without a win after three starts and a great deal of Cubs fans’ faces are turning into grimaces. The independent articles by sports writers are slowly oozing out to the surface mentioning the idea that maybe signing Lester for that big contract was probably a bad idea for Chicago. However, manager Joe Maddon is still behind Lester and believes he is slowly, but surely, finding his rhythm at this ball club. And I get it, being the ace of this squad has been quite difficult over the past couple of years. There hasn’t been a consistent starting ace pitcher for the Cubs since Carlos Zambrano. Lester I am still in your corner, but if we get to the end of the month without some better number, then you are going to start hearing some questions from me.
The Cubs’ bullpen suffered their first hiccup during their series against the Padres over the weekend. With two promising games in the bag for the Cubs on Friday and Saturday, the Padres came back with runs of their own towards the last three innings of both games. Securing victory of the Friday match up, it was the Cubs who won in extras innings on Saturday afternoon. Rest assured, this is one of the new breeds of teams the Cubs need to be ready for if they are looking to be in the playoffs this season and for years to come. This bullpen needs to be ready to play against top batters in this league and surely needs to out pitch pens that are far better than theirs. So far the bullpen has proved to be much better this season, but there is much more they need to keep in the tank for the long run.
If you are already tired of me blowing Kris Bryant’s horn, stop reading and keep scrolling to the next post. Obviously you are not hyped up for the future stars of this league for the next years to come. For all I know, I can be wrong for calling Bryant a star, but he has the huge opportunity to being a franchise face of this team along side Rizzo, Castro, and Lester. After his big league debut striking out three out of the four at bats in Friday’s loss, he came out big with collecting six hits in fourteen at bats and four RBI’s. Hitting .429 after last night’s game against the Pirates, we will be looking to see Bryant’s first home run of the season sooner than later. He has already proved he can play third base pretty well, my only prediction is that he will lead the team in either RBI’s or runs this season.
As far as the rest of the league goes, the Detroit Tigers continue to demonstrate as the best team in the league with only two loses; followed by their division rivals, the Kansas City Royals, with only three loses. These two teams continue to be potential threats to everyone in the American League while division leaders have changed in the West and East. The Houston Astros only lie a half a game ahead of the Athletics, but will not last long if the Athletics are the only team in the positive category for runs scored-run allowed ratio statistic. With the Angels, Rangers, and Mariners all having the same record, the leader board should change between this week or the next. The East is almost parallel to West with the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays all having the same record; while the Boston Red Sox cling onto a one game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. As predicted, this division will be at each other’s throats to see who will come up on top by the end of the season. The best team in the National League is the power surging Los Angeles Dodgers at 9-3 with their bats doing most of the talking. Best story I have heard around in baseball is the fact the Adrian Gonzalez bat is back and is tearing it up with the best batting average in the league thus far. Meanwhile, with everyone in New York saying “Sell the Team” is starting to put the billboards to shame with the Mets being the best team in their division. Although, spectators believe it will not last long with the Mets going into the Subway Series against the Bronx Bombers this weekend. The St. Louis Cardinals had a better week then the rest of their division as they calmly took over first place over the Cubs and look to stay there with the five game winning streak they are riding into this week facing a struggling Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers ball clubs.
That is it for now, Cubs fans. As always, I will be reviewing Fantasy Baseball values, stats, numbers, and all that jazz by the end of the week, The Champ came back strong over his long distance rival that should be reading this article…..right….about…NOW! Tune in next week to see if the Cubs will still be over .500 and I can only hope they take one of these series to remain there.
GO CUBS GO!