Chicago is ground zero for the 2016 Major League Baseball season, at least through the first 30 + games. It is not all that surprising either. When spring training arrived, the Chicago Cubs were the belle of the baseball ball, and the choice of many baseball scribes to win the World Series (at last). The White Sox were coming off a disappointing 2015 season and knew this year had to be better or else manager Robin Ventura was toast. Let’s just say that, so far, they have put the win in Windy City.
The Cubs – 25-6
Their terrific 2015 season ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The North Siders, under the tutelage of first-year skipper Joe Maddon, were one step away from playing in the Fall Classic; and they have picked up right where they left off last season. Jake Arrieta is once again the game’s best pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. He is 6-0 this year with a league best 1.13 earned run average. Heck, the guy has not lost a regular season game since July 25, 2015!
His fellow mound mates, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, are pitching in, too, with ERA’s of 1.58 and 1.85, respectively. Despite losing slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber in the first week, the young, deep lineup that General Manager Theo Epstein has assembled is humming along. Sure, big free agent signee Jason Heyward is off to a slow start, but Dexter Fowler’s great beginning has more than made up for it. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are one of the game’s best 3/4 hitter tandems; and Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler all ooze with talent. Throw in professional hitter and tremendous glue guy, Ben Zobrist, and the Cubbies should score a ton of runs. As I have written about in this space in the past, Theo Epstein once conquered the Curse of the Bambino; he now seems to have a roster capable of vanquishing the Curse of the Billy Goat.
The White Sox – 23-11
Most of the talk coming out of Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona (Spring Training home of the White Sox), centered around Adam and Drake LaRoche. Should a 14-year-old boy spend the entire day with his father at the ballpark? Well, LaRoche retired when he was told the answer was no, walking away from $13 million this season. One of the most vocal proponents for the LaRoche’s was star left-handed pitcher Chris Sale. Since the beginning of the regular season, however, Sale has let his left arm do all of his talking. He is 7-0 with a 1.79 ERA. Yes, you could say he is “sailing” along.
He is not the only hurler having early-season success either. Jose Quintana is 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA; and veteran Matt Latos is off to a 5-0 start. Just wait until big Carlos Rodon figures things out. Offensively, Rutgers alum Todd Frazier leads the team in home runs and runs driven in, hitting behind Jose Abreu. Adam Eaton and Brett Lawrie are off to nice starts setting the table for the heart of the order; but can they sustain it?
What we do know for sure is that as of 4 PM on May 11th, Chicago’s baseball teams own the two best records in the game.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.