Monday, April 13, 2015

Cubs Win First Series of 2015: Five Thoughts

The Cubs pulled off a great comeback win behind Dexter Fowler's home run in the 9th inning yesterday, winning the series against the Colorado Rockies and posting a record of 3-2 after the first week. This is the best five-game start for the team under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, which is certainly encouraging for a team that played .500 ball from mid-May through the end of the season last year, addressed needs in the offseason, and has the game's best farm system almost ready to storm the majors.

Below are five thoughts following the series.

1. The Cubs wouldn't have won this game/series last year. Of course the first seven weeks of 2014 were pathetic, and it seemed to take forever to win a series. But that aside, these were the series the team just couldn't win. Getting to the rubber match and starting the 9th inning down by three runs, that would happen sometimes. Getting the tying run to the plate also wasn't completely uncommon. But coming through with a big home run to win the game and the series? That feels refreshing. Let's hope this is only the start.

2. The offense won this series. In recent years, great pitching has allowed the team to win series. But in a series where the Rockies scored five runs in each of the three games, the Cubs offense had to put up some numbers, and they did. While five runs per game at Coors Field isn't terrible at all, this pitching staff is going to have better series this year (see: St. Louis, earlier last week). It's good to know the offense can overcome deficits when the pitching isn't at its best.

3. Keep the sacrifice flies coming! The 2014 Cubs managed only 41 sac flies all season. This year's team already has four through five games! The ability to score runs without base hits has definitely made a difference and shows that this team is having better at-bats so far.

4. Jorge Soler could have a big second week. He had three hits in the Colorado series and went 0-for-4 on Sunday, but he is hitting the ball. His .222 average should not be a concern at all right now, as these things tend to balance themselves out. I'm expecting a big week from him starting tonight.

5. This roster is working. Carrying three catchers became less of a concern after Welington Castillo's big pinch hit on Sunday. And even with minor injuries to La Stella and Olt, the Cubs were still able to field a quality lineup, with Castillo ready to serve as an emergency third baseman and Travis Wood listed as a potential outfielder. When Kris Bryant is finally added to the roster and the team's minor injuries heal, things will really fall into place. I personally like what Coghlan is bringing to left field, and I love the flexibility of the bench. I guess eventually the team will go to two catchers, and players like Szczur and Herrera may lose roster spots to Bryant, Denorfia, etc. But it's all working right now.

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