Cubs Scorecard: So Far So Suzuki

Going into Week 2 of the regular season, the Cubs are one game out of first place behind the Cardinals.  Hitting has been leading the charge, which is a little new for the Northsiders. According to, the Cubs are second in batting average (.277) behind the Rockies, 10th in Runs, second in On Base Percentage (.357) behind the Mets, third in slugging (.446) behind the Rockies and the Guardians, and second in OPS (.803) behind the Rockies. An outstanding start of the season at the plate.  The hitting is really producing the wins as the Cubs are in the bottom 50% of all the pitching metrics including ERA, WHIP, and strike outs.

How did the Cubs 2021 midseason and offseason moves impact this result? Stats according to

Position Players

What did the Cubs lose?What did the Cubs gain?
Anthony Rizzo (1B).  .212/.381/.515 with an .896 OPS including 3 homers and 8 RBI’s.Frank Schwindel, .256/.293/.436 with an .729 OPS, including 2 homers and 5 RBI’s.
Javier Baez (SS).  .316/.350/.526 with an .876 OPS including 1 homer and 4 RBI’s.Nico Hoerner. .219/.219/.375 with an .594 OPS including 1 homer and 4 RBI’s.
Kris Bryant (3B). .343/.375/.457 with an .832 OPS including 0 homers and 4 RBI’s.Patrick Wisdom. .229//303/.494 with an .797 OPS including 1 HR and 8 RBI’s.
Kyle Schwarber (OF). .125/.205/.300 with a .505 OPS including 2 homers and 4 RBI’s.

Jesse Winker.  .152/.349/.152 with a .500 OPS including 0 homers and 2 RBI’s.

Nick Castellanos .293/.370/.537 with a .906 OPS including 2 homers and 6 RBI’s.

Starling Marte. .263/.317/.447 with a .764 OPS including 2 homers and 10 RBI’s.
Seiya Suzuki. .429/.564/.929 with a 1.493 slugging including 4 homers and 11 RBI’s  

Ian Happ.  .345/.424/.414 with a .838 OPS including 0 homers and 6 RBI’s  

Michael Hermasillo.  Still looking for the first hit after 12 at-bats.  
 Nick Madrigal. .281/.343/.344 with a .687 OPS including 0 RBI’s and 0 homers.

The comparison on position players is a little unfair because no team could have afforded all of these superstars, but it does reflect the fact that the Cubs decided not to retain anybody. The ex-core infield is off to a very hot start. Rizzo’s OBP is off the chart and Javy has never hit this good this early in the season. Bryant is hitting extremely well but not slugging much.  Whereas the current Cubs infield is off to a bit of a slow start.  Wisdom’s 8 RBI’s is impressive and Schwindel has 2 homers at very important times.  Hoerner is very far off from expectations to start.

The addition of Nick Madrigal is starting to come to fruition.  Power is not expected but getting on base is which is what has been steadily increasing over the first week.  Including some very solid defense, Madrigal seems to be as advertised.

The outfield is a different story.  We could easily include Bryant in the outfield comparison.  The Cubs made a very specific decision to grab the top Japanese player in Suzuki and passed on the top outfielders in the marketplace.  At this point, Cubs win.  Suzuki is off to a ridiculous start.  I am not sure if any rookie has ever been Player of the Week in their first week in the Show, let alone the first week of the entire year.  His eye for the zone (9 walks in 28 at bats), his patience to get his pitch, and the execution of the swing looks phenomenal so far. Power, speed, and he gets on-base all sorts of way. It is a long season, but we rejoice in this addition.

Welcome Ian Happ to the first half of the season.  Happ is a seasoned superstar in September.  Maybe August.  But helping the Cubs to the top of the standings early on has not always been his core competency.  The power will come around, but 6 quick RBI’s shows some clutch hitting we don’t always see from Happ.  The rest of the outfield pickups like Hermosillo,  Rafael Ortega, and Clint Frazier are struggling.

Starting Pitching

What did the Cubs lose?What did the Cubs gain?
Yu Darvish. 1-1, 6.28 ERA, 13 strikeouts, 1.256 WHIP.Marcus Stroman. 0-1, 6.00 ERA, 7 strikeouts . 1.33 WHIP.

Drew Smyly. 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 strikeouts, .83 WHIP

Justin Steele 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 9 strikeouts, 1.29 WHIP.

The Cubs newest addition, Stroman, had one bad game which has skewed his stats, same as Darvish.  But ultimately Stroman has looked pretty good.  Stroman was definitely the best of the rest as the Cubs did not make an attempt for the hot free agents like Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Clayton Kershaw, or Kevin Gausman.  However, Smyly and Steele have had a surprisingly great start to the year.  The schedule gets tougher moving forward so let’s see if this success continues.

Relief Pitcher

What did the Cubs lose?What did the Cubs gain?
Andrew Chafin, currently injured with the Tigers.  

Ryan Tepera.  5 IP, 3.60 ERA, .600 WHIP  

Craig Kimbrel, 3 games, 3 saves, 3 strikeouts, 3.00 ERA, .667 WHIP.  
Jesse Chavez. 3.1 IP, 10.8 ERA, 2.10 WHIP

Daniel Norris. 3.2 IP, 7.36 ERA, 1.09 WHIP

David Robertson. 5 IP, 0 ERA, 4 strikeouts, .60 WHIP, 4 saves.  

Ethan Roberts. 3.1 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.80 WHIP.  

Keegan Thompson, 9.2 IP, 0 ERA, 10 strikeouts, .62 WHIP  

Rowan Wick. 3.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP.  

The Cubs bullpen has been a mixed bag.  Some relievers have performed really well like Wick, Thompson, and newcomer Roberts while others have had a tough start like Chavez and Norris.  Compared to Tepera, who was great for the Cubs in 2021 until he left for the White Sox, all of the Cubs additions to the bullpen have so far worked out. But the big winner so far is David Robertson.  Robertson has been lights out and has won all four of his saves.  He is not going to have the strikeout or velocity numbers like Kimbrel, but he looks extremely comfortable in the closer role, a lot like the guy who had at least 34 saves every year between 2014 and 2016.  Kimbrel has given up one run which has inflated his ERA, but is 100% in save opportunities.  However, for the money, and the prospects that the Cubs received, Robertson looks like the steal of the century right now.

For this week’s scorecard, we have to give the Cubs a W, 1 in the win column for the first week of the year.  The surprising start to the bats, a solid pitching effort, and a great closing effort has given the Cubs a chance at the start of the season.


  • Larry Goldman

    Larry spends his nights and days watching, researching, and writing about sports in Chicago and the national conversation.

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