The crack of the bat! the roar of the crowd! Baseball’s back at
*waves tiny flag*
It will be great to have Pat Hughes back in my earballs, no matter how ambivalent I feel about the upcoming season. At least with my win prediction in the podcast that ones of you likely listened to, I have seized the mantle of OV’s resident optimist
The Rangers are not projected to be very good, so hopefully the Cubs can get off to a good start.
I’ll use the teams’ 2018 numbers here (excluding injured/departed players), since looking at a bunch of zeros is boring.
- OBP: Ben Zobrist (.378)
- ISO: El Mago (.264)
- HR: Baez (34)
- R+RBI: Baez (212)
- wRC+: Baez (131)
- BSR: Jason Heyward (4.3)
- DRS: Albert Almora (9)
- SP K/9: Yu Darvish (11.03)
- SP BB/9: Kyle Hendricks (1.99)
- SP FIP: Cole Hamels (3.42)
- RP FIP: Carl Edwards Jr (11.60)
- RP BB/9: Pedro Strop (3.17)
- RP FIP: Edwards (2.93)
- WAR: Baez (5.3)
- OBP: Shin-Soo Choo (.377)
- ISO: Joey Gallo (
- HR: Gallo (40)
- R+RBI: Gallo (174)
- wRC+: Choo (118)
- BSR: Delino DeShields Jr (4.0)
- DRS: Rougned Odor (10)
- SP K/9:
Cole HamelsMike Minor (7.57)
- SP BB/9: Minor (2.18)
- SP FIP: Minor (4.43)
- RP K/9: Jose LeClerc (13.79)
- RP BB/9: Chris Martin (1.08)
- RP FIP: LeClerc (1.90)
- WAR: Gallo (2.8)
Injuries, transactions, vengenace pacts, etc.
All the Cubs moves were made last season. The only significant on field action was picking up Hamels’s $20m option. The Cubs were too busy shooting themselves in the foot while counting money to do anything else this offseason.
The Rangers picked up long time serviceable Cardinals starter Lance Lynn on a cheap deal in the offseason, as well as vets Asdrubal Cabrera and Jesse Chavez, who was basically begging to come back to the Cubs.
Projected K/9, BB/9, ERA listed for each pitcher.
Thursday: Jon Lester, LHP (7.73, 2.89, 3.97) vs Mike Minor, LHP (7.35, 2.52, 4.49), 3:05 PM CT
Despite all the optimism talk above, one player I am not particularly optimistic about is Jon Lester. All of the Cubs starters can be summed up as “probably okay”, but Lester seems like the guy most likely to fall to the back of the pack this year. He’s more than earned his contract though, so it is what it is.
Minor is the best pitcher in the Texas rotation, which kind of says why they’re projected to win 71 games or so. He was pretty solid with the Braves until shoulder problems cost him the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He worked as a reliever in 2017 and was pretty solid as a starter in TEX last year, getting better as the season went on. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, so I’m not sure if that helps or hurts guys like Kris Bryant.
Saturday: Yu Darvish, RHP (10.42, 3.26, 3.76) vs Edinson Volquez, RHP (6.29, 4.57, 5.14) 7:05 PM CT
Darvish feels like the key to the Cubs having a good year or not. Hopefully he gets off to a hot start. He supposedly had a great spring, for the 200,000 lira that’s worth. He’s been dealing with a blister problem for the past week or so unfortunately, but is on track to make this start.
Volquez is living the dream of chasing Edwin Jackson in the number of uniforms that he has worn over the course of his career. He made 17 starts last year for the Marlins and was okay-ish. Suffice to say the projection systems are not big believers in his stuff. He’s back with his original team now, and maybe this is the season he finally wins ROY.
Sunday: Cole Hamels, LHP (8.07, 3.12, 3.71) vs Lance Lynn, RHP (7.77, 4.01, 4.50), 3:05 PM CT
ZiPS at least likes Hamels a lot. He sucked with the Rangers last year, largely on the back of an absurd HR/FB of 20%, but turned things around since coming to the Cubs in midseason posting a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts. His FIP over that stretch was 3.42 so he had a little help, but the big thing was the huge drop on gopher balls after he left Arlington. He reportedly changed up his pitch mix as well, and hopefully he can eat some innings in 2019.
It was a little surprising to see the Cardinals let Lynn go, and for him to remain unsigned for so long going into last season. His peripherals were pretty lousy in 2017 though, and his 2018 numbers reflected it. Still, he is probably the current avatar of the Serviceable Starter archetype right now, and got 3/30 from the Rangers this offseason.