The 2014 Cubs did not win a series throughout the month of April, finishing the first month of the season at 9-17. By comparison, the 2015 team has not lost a series yet, defeating the Reds 5-0 on Wednesday to earn a second series win after splitting the rain-shortened series with the Cardinals to begin the season. Below are five thoughts about the first place Cubs following the Reds series.
1. Travis Wood is off to a good start. Wood was the clear winner of the fifth rotation spot, and he has been a huge asset in the past. Unfortunately, he was pretty bad at times last year. In fact he allowed at least a run in every start until mid-June, making Wednesday's start (0 ER) very encouraging. Cubs fans would love to see Wood pitch consistently and stay in this rotation all year. With Lester, Arrieta, and Wood throwing, who could've imagined Wood would start the only shutout of the series?
2. Jorge Soler came through. In my last post, I predicted he'd have a big week, and he definitely had a great series, going 5-for-11 with two HRs, five RBI, three runs, and two walks. With other prospects getting all the attention, Soler feels like a veteran at this point. A veteran who may win the league's Rookie of the Year award.
3. The bullpen keeps going. Cubs relievers threw 8.1 innings against the Reds and did not allow a run. The Ramirez injury is scary, and we may lose a crucial piece there. Sure, Schlitter is shaky at times, but Rosscup looked amazing in his appearance on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Motte, Coke, Strop, and Rondon just keep shutting hitters down late.
4. Are we still trying to trade Starlin Castro? I'm personally done talking about it for now, because Castro needs to be seen as piece the team can build around. He has already said he'd move positions if he had to, and he is quickly reminding us how important his bat is. Fowler, Soler, and Rizzo have given the Cubs the big hits so far, but who is leading the team in hitting? Castro at .323. Like always.
5. Kris Bryant watch begins now. Our friends in New Orleans are hoping to catch Bryant in an Iowa uniform tonight, but I'm hoping he isn't even in the park. (Sorry, Brett and Rocky!) Whether he is activated on Friday or Saturday (to ensure a potential one-game play-in at the end of the season doesn't ruin everything), we should see Bryant in Chicago at some point this weekend. Regardless of anything else on the business side of this thing, there's an obvious need at third base at this point. Maybe I'm wrong? But I think it's Bryant time within the next 48 hours.