The Chicago Cubs just completed their 10th game of the season in a 4-2 losing effort against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first of three games at Wrigley Field.
The defending World Series Champions are off to a 6-4 start. They started the season with a loss in St. Louis but rebounded to win two straight against the Cardinals. Chicago then traveled to Milwaukee where they lost the first game in 11 innings before rebounding to take the final two games of the series. They then had a comeback win on their banner raising night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two nights later they got shut out by Brandon McCarthy before winning the rubber game 4-0.
There are plenty of positives to take away from the first ten games. Here are my five biggest takeaways from the first ten games:
1. Jason Heyward is hitting
There was no secret about Hayward’s struggles in 2016 after signing a massive contract with the Cubs. However, in nine games this season, Heyward is leading the team with a .294 batting average while owning a .368 on-base percentage. He has yet to hit a home run but he does not need to in this lineup. If he can keep up the average and get on-base this lineup gets a whole lot scarier.
2. The starting pitching looks good
Each of their five starters are now two starts in and Joe Maddon and company must be happy. Aces Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta have gotten off to great starts. Lester has allowed only two runs in 11.0 innings of work while Arrieta has allowed three in 13.0 innings. John Lackey leads the team with 17 strikeouts in 12.0 innings. Brett Anderson has been quite good as well but I will detail that further below. The one worry might be Kyle Hendricks’ slow start. He has given up seven earned runs and two home runs in 11.0 innings. Overall, however, this staff looks as good as just about anyone.
3. Brett Anderson’s start is a major plus
Like I said before, Anderson has been quite good in two starts. He has allowed only just one run on eight hits in 10.2 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is not where they want it to be but that should get better with more starts. He could become a solid signing as the fifth starter for a team that is already favored to win it all.
4. Big hitters not producing early
The big guys might not have the batting averages we are accustom to seeing early on as Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo have struggled early. Bryant is hitting .231 with no home runs, Rizzo is hitting .251 with one home run and Schwarber is hitting .219 with two home runs. Ben Zobrist is hitting under .200 so there is some reason for concern with the big hitters. However, don’t expect these four to continue to stay cold.
5. The bullpen has a chance to be great
So far so good from a bullpen that lost two key members of the World Series team in Aroldis Chapman and Travis Wood. Wade Davis, Carl Edwards and Koji Uehara have yet to allow a run in 12.5 combined innings. Davis is 2-for-2 in save opportunities, which is an encouraging sign as he is coming off Tommy John surgery.
A 6-4 start is solid for this team without its big hitter really producing. This pitching staff is nasty and the bullpen could get even stronger as time goes on. It is a very encouraging start for a team that does not look to have a World Series hangover.