Chicago Cubs Off to Slow Start in 2022

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The Chicago Cubs have not started the 2022 season off very well, and that has fans wondering if this team will ever get it together. The feeling toward the Cubs’ season is a gloomy one. As of Friday night, this team has won 11 games and lost 19.

Certainly Not Contenders

The Chicago Cubs have not started the season off well, but what has gone wrong? Season prognosticators did not predict the Cubs to be contenders for a playoff spot, but they were expected to be close to a .500 team.

They are not getting the pitching or the hitting that they need, and have only won four of 15 games at home. Longtime Cubs fans find that absolutely unacceptable. What’s worse is that fans seem to have started giving up, and are already discussing which veterans will be traded at the July 28-August 3 trade deadline. So what’s going on?

What Has Gone Wrong?

The slow start cannot be pinpointed to one thing. The Cubs’ offense is in a slump. Their starting pitching has struggled. You can also say that bad weather, injuries, and even a shortened spring training could count for some of it.

Their offense is near the bottom in home runs, RBI, and average with runners in scoring position. Only one of their regular position players is batting over .300. They are near the top in grounding into double plays. And, it is not specifically one player in a slump; it is the entire team.

A Look at Starting Pitching

The Cubs’ rotation has had only four quality starts through 30 games. Pitching has dominated the start of the 2022 season, but the Cubs’ ERA ranks 25th out of the 30 teams. They have given up the fourth most home runs and are struggling to get past five or more innings. On top of that, the team has not won back-to-back games in three weeks.

Marcus Stroman Struggles

Marcus Stroman, signed to be their number two starter, has struggled in the first three of his four outings. He is 1–3 with a 5.13 ERA. That is something that the Cubs did not see coming. The good news is that last weekend he pitched seven excellent innings, which hopefully is a good sign that he has figured out what caused his poor start and made adjustments.

However, the team placed him on the Injured List without a designation this past Sunday. That move is normally reserved for issues related to COVID-19. The Cubs are hoping that the interruption doesn’t affect what began in his last start and he returns to continue an upward trajectory.

Other Starters Struggle

The rest of the starting rotation has struggled as well. Justin Steele is 1–4 with 5.32 ERA in his six starts. As with Stroman, he looked good in his last start when he threw 35 pitches through three innings. However, he had to come out when he injured his thumb on his pitching hand.

While Drew Smyly has pitched well, the offense has failed to get him the necessary runs to win the games that he has started. Smyly is 1–3 with a 3.04 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

Kyle Hendricks has struggled to find the plate. His ERA is currently 4.38, and for a pitcher who relies on his fastball, it appears it has lost some speed. His last start on Tuesday is hopefully a change for the better as he pitched 8 2/3 innings in a win. When Hendricks is locked in, he remains one of the game’s best starters.

There is Good News

There is some good news… The Cubs bullpen has been good. Many thought the bullpen would be their biggest weakness after they traded away Andrew Chafin, Craig Kimbrel, and Ryan Tepera last season. However, they have found two very good relievers to rely on in Mychal Givens and Rowan Wick.

Wick has 14 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings, two saves and an ERA of 0.77. Givens has 20 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. Both have been steady with the ground ball outs.

Even David Robertson has proven to be an effective closer. He currently has five saves and a 1.50 ERA. Although currently on the 10-day IL, he looks fully recovered from his elbow issues.

2022 Outlook

The Chicago Cubs have not started the season off well and if they are to be a .500 team—or close to it—this season, their bullpen figures to be a main component. While the starting rotation is struggling, there has been some improvement. Both the starters and the bullpen need to continue pitching well and remain healthy.

However, the team needs to figure out what’s causing their offensive slump. If they can’t do that, pitching won’t be able to save them this season.

 

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Players Mentioned:

Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Drew Smyly, Kyle Hendricks, Andrew Chafin, Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera, Mychal Givens, Rowan Wick, David Robertson