They might not be in first place, but the Chicago Cubs are finally starting to show a little bit of improvement after being one of the worst teams in baseball last year. Earlier this week, the Cubs managed to move half a game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers, putting themselves in fourth place, rather than last in the National League Central. When was the last time we saw a Cubs team that wasn’t in last place?
The Cubs, a team that has always struggled with pitching, has seen a few surprises from some of their pitchers this year. Scott Feldman has been especially remarkable on the mound, going 4-0 with an ERA of 1.28 in his last five starts, according to Cubs.com. Travis Wood has also been an unexpected pleasant surprise in the rotation, going 4-2 with an ERA of 2.03 so far. Oddly enough, the two pitchers that were supposed to bring great promise to the Cubs, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson, have failed to perform as well as expected. If Samardzija and Jackson can step up their game, those four pitchers, plus the addition of Matt Garza when he returns from the disabled list on Tuesday, gives the Cubs a potentially solid starting rotation.
As for the troubles at the plate, the Cubs are slowly starting to see improvements in their batting power. The team has begun hitting doubles during games, but the problem now is driving in the runner on base. They’re slowly getting better with players like Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz consistently getting on base, but they need help from the rest of the team. Key players like Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro need to step it up and get on base a little more as well.
The one area the Cubs don’t seem to be improving in is fielding. Careless errors are made on a regular basis, and many of them are coming from veteran players who should know better. Simple errors are costing the Cubs runs, often costing them the game. If the fielding was a little better, the team might have a slightly better record.
No, the Cubs are nowhere close to being where they need to be if they want to make a playoff run, but you have to start somewhere. While the progress is slow, this team may have a chance of being something great within the next few years.