It’s not surprising and it’s still early, but this offense looks much like the one in 2012.
One of the biggest concerns with the 2013 Chicago Cubs offense was whether they could get enough production from the bottom-half of their offense. Most fans knew that Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano would get their share of runs and RBI. But how much damage would the No. 5-9 hitters do?
After two games, those hitters’ only contributions came when Welington Castillo had an RBI double. Following Rizzo’s first-inning home run, that RBI double was the only run that the Cubs have scored in the last 17.2 innings.
On Apr. 3, that lack of offense doomed the Cubs in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It only took two games for the first shutout loss of 2013. Wandy Rodriguez, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli surrendered just two hits and one walk.
Offensively, it has been an ugly couple of games. Out of 54 outs, 24 of them have been strikeouts. Brent Lillibridge, who replaced Darwin Barney after he was sent to the disabled list with a knee laceration, has started the season 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Dave Sappelt was 0-for-3 in his first chance at leading off against left-handed pitching.
Even if Ian Stewart and Barney were back in the lineup, it probably wouldn’t have changed the results of these last two games. The offense continues to struggle against left-handed pitchers. Furthermore, the bottom-half of the lineup hasn’t produced enough. Let’s see if things change as the season progresses. Otherwise, the Cubs will drop out of the National League Central race—and fast.
Fans should expect more fireworks when the rubber game is played on Apr. 4. James McDonald will start for the Pirates. In 2012, McDonald had a 0-2 record with a 7.04 ERA and 1.70 WHIP against the Cubs. The Cubs should return to their right-handed lineup with David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz.