Chicago Cubs Month in Review for March/April
The MLB season is a long one, a 162-game grind that can be hard to get your mind around if you don’t put it in proper perspective. Every team will have ups and downs, so fans each have their own way of trying to make sense of the avalanche of data that cascades down more heavily all the time.
While some look at a season series-by-series, week-to-week, or even by first and second halves, I like to use a month-by-month approach. There are basically six months in a season, give or take a couple days. If your team has a winning record in four of those months, chances are good they will have a winning record for the year.
Now, a team can also have what I like to call a mega month, which is basically winning or losing more than 20 games before turning the page on the calendar. The Cubs have had several mega months in recent years, and the Brewers unfortunately had one of their own last September.
I told the brain trust here at Cubs Insider about my theory and for reasons beyond my understanding they are going to let me do a recap of each month of the Cubs season. I’m going to look at five categories each month, but any readers have some additional topics you want me to examine, say so in the comments.
I’m sure no one needs a reminder of how the season began for the Cubs. A 1-6 start had many people in panic mode, especially with repeated bullpen meltdowns. Then the pitching stabilized, at least somewhat, and Chicago went on a 14-6 run to close out April. Believe it or not, their 4.03 team ERA is actually the 11th best in baseball and their +27 run differential is good for number three in the National League. The Cubs’ 15-12 record would have been better if not for the early ‘pen problems.
Who Was Hot?
This will be hard to narrow down on the offensive end. Javy Báez picked up right where he left off in 2018 with nine homers, 22 RBI, and a .954 OPS. Willson Contreras had seven dingers of his own and had an 1.043 OPS. Perhaps the most promising development was Jason Heyward‘s .309/.426/.506 slash line.
On the pitching side, José Quintana has strung together four very good starts in a row and has 36 strikeouts with only nine total walks this month. Cole Hamels also has just 12 walks and 37 punchouts alongside a 3.19 ERA in six starts.
Who Was Cold?
The Bryzzo Souvenir Company had a down month in April, as Kris Bryant hit just .230 and Anthony Rizzo just .228 early on. But the two stars have an OPS above .750 entering May and could be primed to break loose. Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber are showing signs of life over the last week after being frozen for much of April. Kyle Hendricks is starting slow, as seems to be his pattern, with a 5.33 ERA for the month. Yu Darvish struggled with control, walking 22 batters in March/April.
I would say the key series of the month was the three-game sweep of the Marlins from April 15-17. It was the Cubs’ first three-game winning streak of the season and got them to within a game of the .500 mark at 8-9. It also featured quality starts from Quintana and Hamels. Perhaps the biggest thing about the sweep of an inferior team was that it let fans take a deep breath and forget the rough opening week of 2019.
Game of the Month
There are a few candidates for this award, but I’m going to go with the 15-inning marathon win over Arizona. We are talking about a game where Tyler Chatwood struck out a hitter with the bases loaded then hit double to spark the winning rally. Oh, and then Nick Ahmed flying out to the warning track to end the game and give fans everywhere heart palpitations.
One down, five to go.