The Cub’s slow start


Matt Belinson, Sports Editor

Expectations are common from fans of sports teams, movie sequels and books. Expectations are set once the first “chapter” was one to remember and revere. The 2016 major league baseball season saw the Chicago Cubs finally win the World Series and fans knew 2017 would hold one bar to this team, to do it again.

     37 games into the 2017 season, the Chicago Cubs are not where fans and even some “experts” predicted. The Cubs sit fourth in the National League Central Division. The team has a sub-par record of 18-19. The teams ahead of them were all expected to be low in the division; the Cardinals in 1st place, the Brewers in 2nd and the Reds in 3rd. The Cubs have also played the hardest schedule in the first two months of the season according to ESPN metrics. The hard schedule is not the main reason this group of champions has been disappointing to watch so far this year.

     Any manager in baseball will say that starting pitching will take your team far, and they are correct. The Chicago Cubs 2016 season went a little too perfect for some. Their starting pitching staff all stayed healthy, no superstar or role player was injured and many National League rivals had major injuries. The Cubs have not had that this year. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks all have an E.R.A over 3.40 . The pitching led the Cubs through tough games and series in the playoffs and all three have not done well so far. Offense for the 2016 World Series Champions was not a problem.

    MVP Kris Bryant hit 39 home runs and hit 109 RBIs, Anthony Rizzo hit 32 home runs and had 110 RBIs. The lineup is without Dexter Fowler, the 2016 leadoff hitter, and the Cubs could use his 296 B.A and 15 home runs. Out off all 37 games played this year, the north siders have been held to under 3 runs 13 times. The 2017 Cubs will have to get the bats going if a back to back championship happens.

     2017 will be a true test of the Chicago Cubs, the pressure of history is gone and fans have pride again. Expectations are even higher than the year before, but manager Joe Maddon always says “Embrace the target.” The starting infield for the Cubs has an average age of 24. This group has high standards but fans and analysts alike need to relax and understand that 125 games still have to be played. The players are mostly young adults but they play like veterans.

     As Sam Walton once said, “High expectations are the key to everything.” This quote is good for the players on the Cubs to see and the fans to relax and reflect on what happened less than seven months ago.