The Cubs' young hitters haven't produced consistent results yet, but they've still made an impression on a couple of Cy Young winners.
When the Cubs faced Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in back-to-back games at Wrigley Field last month, they wound up beating both Dodgers aces.
But it wasn't just the losses that stuck with Kershaw. He was shocked at how many pitches he and Greinke had to throw.
Kershaw - who has won the ERA title in the National League for four straight seasons - had to throw 105 pitches in seven innings against the Cubs on June 22. Greinke - who hasn't given up a run since June 13 (a span of 43.2 innings) and currently leads the world with an absolutely absurd 1.30 ERA - shut the Cubs out on June 23, but only lasted six innings because he was forced to throw 100 pitches.
"Good lineup. You think a young lineup, you think a little reckless, swinging at balls in the dirt, but they worked pitch counts," Kershaw said before the MLB All-Star Game last week. "Zack and I both had over a hundred pitches by the time we came out of the game.
"They worked the counts. I feel like every count was 3-2, 2-2, fouling off stuff. Really good approaches. When you do that, you're gonna strike out some because you're working the count, but at the same time, you're gonna get starters out of the game early and you're gonna have a lot of RBI situations with walks and good at-bats.
"For having such a young team, they have a good approach."
The Cubs have three rookies (Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell) in their everyday lineup, but all three are averaging more than 4 pitches per plate appearance (and fellow rookie Kyle Schwarber is averaging 3.86 pitches per plate appearance in his first nine big-league games).
But taking all those pitches hasn't led to results just yet, as the Cubs currently sit 11th in the NL in runs scored entering play Monday. They're also 10th in OPS (.687) as a team and 13th in the league with a .239 batting average.
Like Kershaw said, that patient approach will lead to strikeouts, as Cubs hitters have whiffed 827 times, 50 times more than the next NL team (Padres - 777) and behind only the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball.
Still, it gives the Cubs opportunities to get into the bullpen and chase elite starters like Kershaw and Greinke out of the game earlier than normal.