It’s been a rough start for the 2023 Chicago Cubs. GM Jabs and the North Siders are no strangers to losing – on April 4th they tallied their 1,000th L together in MLB Pro history, thanks to Buster Posey and the Cincinnati Reds. Losing sucks, but losing when you were expecting to win extra sucks. And this version of the Cubs was expecting to win.
“I’m at a bit of a loss, to be honest with you,” manager John Farrell told the media following Sunday night’s ballgame. Moments before, Danny Hultzen and Danny Moore pitched 8.2 innings of no-hit ball for the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Some things are clicking, but many things are not. We’re still working on it.”
The Cubs have won 3 games in their first 16 attempts. Here are three takeaways from their season so far.
#1: Yordan Alvarez is on fire.
One of the main (only?) bright spots about this year’s Cubs team is their first baseman.
Win or lose, Yordan Alvarez has reached base in every single Cubs game this season. He hit safely in the first nine games, then drew a walk during an 0-fer in game ten. On Sunday morning, his triple slash was .358/.433/.585, good for a 1.018 OPS. The 25 year old has gone hitless since then, but he’s still getting on base.
The Cubs have discussed some creative lineup solutions to attempt to bust the team out of their slump. But whatever they try, they want to make sure they don’t break Yordan.
How long will the streak continue? What even is the MLB Pro record? These are the questions that even those Cubs fans who have written off the 2023 season are debating on the message boards.
#2: Unexpected production from third base.
Guess who has the highest OPS+ of any Cubs batter this season?
It’s Jake Burger at 229, duh. (Sample size is important, kids.)
In the first edition of Cubs Chronicles I wrote the following: “If Burger can turn into the star [the Cubs] think he is, the rest of the division will be put on notice.” Burger’s season began with a hit and a run, and then a hit by pitch that fractured his finger and put him on the IL before the ink was dry on the first scorecard of the season.
The Cubs did a quick audit of the waiver wire, checked in on a few free agents, and even gave Billy Hamilton a start at the hot corner. In the end, they decided to call up Cameron Cannon to make his major league debut, and so far he’s impressed. He’s got 14 hits, 2 homers, and 7 RBIs in 51 plate appearances.
The defense isn’t quite as good as Burger’s, but Cannon’s addition to the active roster has been a welcome one.
#3: Will the real Ed Harris please stand up?
Perhaps this final takeaway perfectly encapsulates the Cubs season. What is going on with Ed Harris?
Certainly, Harris has had a 15 game slump like this before. He’s been in the majors for five years. The only reason this feels scary is it’s coming at the start of a season when it’s easier to identify by every fantasy baseball manager this side of Lake Michigan.
Harris, now 30, is staring down a negative WAR balance, a 61 OPS+, and a sub-.300 slugging percentage. One of the Cubs’ three victories came during a night off for Harris, to the point where they tried to bench him the next game to see if they could win two in a row.
This is not the real Ed Harris and everyone in the league knows that. But if the Cubs are going to do something this season – either on the field or on the trade block, they need Harris to get back to his old ways soon.
Thank you for reading CUBS CHRONICLES!