The Chicago Cubs have really started the season on incredibly impressive form. The Cubs are 29 games into their schedule and they still only have six losses on the entire season. Most recently, Chicago beat a Washington Nationals team that is among the favorites for the World Series. However, the Cubs’ play through the first five weeks of the season has been such that they appear to have a ton of promise to end their World Series drought.
The Chicago Cubs have a clear Cy Young candidate in Jake Arrieta. The winner of the award last season, Arrieta is off and flying through six starts in 2016. Not only is he undefeated, but he doesn’t have any no-decisions either as his record is perfect at 6-0. With a tiny ERA of just 0.84, he hasn’t required much run support to keep his team in front on the scoreboard.
However, while Arrieta is the bright light of the Cubs’ starters, there really hasn’t been a weak point exposed as of yet. John Lackey is as vulnerable as the starting pitching gets for Chicago, yet the righty is still 4-1 with a 4.01 ERA entering this weekend. Jason Hamel, Kyle Hendricks, and lefty Jon Lester make Chicago’s five-man rotation the best in baseball thus far.
When it comes to hitting, first baseman Anthony Rizzo has played above his career averages so far in 2016. With a career .833 OPS, Rizzo is well above that mark this season, posting a home-run heavy 1.053 OPS entering this weekend. Dexter Fowler has also been surprising this season as his doubles-heavy OPS of 1.016 entering this weekend is well above his career average of .788.
29 games constitute about one-sixth of the regular season in Major League Baseball. Those that know the sport know that teams do not play .793 baseball through the entire regular season. Therefore, some regression has to be expected out of this Chicago team.
However, if the Cubbies are anywhere near .720 baseball at the end of May, then that should generate some buzz regarding their ability to challenge for the best record in a 162-game season. Currently, that record belongs to the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who went 116-46 en route to a .716 season and a disappointing loss in the ALCS.
For weekend action, the Cubs have one more against the Washington Nationals as they go for a four-game sweep, a game that comes at 1:20 pm CT on Sunday. Arrieta is the probable starter for the Cubs on Sunday while Washington will try to counter with Tanner Roark. Having already won three games against Washington, the Cubs appear poised for a four-game sweep.
After the Washington series, Chicago will host the Padres and the Pirates before heading out on the road to Milwaukee, San Francisco, and St. Louis.