White Sox

Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

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Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

The Cubs are 10 games into 2012 already and though they boast a 3-7 record, there are some positive signs. Unfortunately, not many of those are on offense.

We've already taken a look at the success of the starting rotation so far and there's not much point in looking at the numbers of relievers, since it's such a small sample size. But the offense has been a point of discussion over the first part of the season and hasn't seen the same success so far.

Below are statistics for the Cubs offense after 10 games. In parentheses are MLB ranks.

--40 runs (18)
--5 HR (27)
--.236 AVG (22)
--.301 OBP (22)
--.342 SLG (25)
--.643 OPS (24)
--8 SB (6)
--83 K (28)

As you can see, this team does not have much power and strikes out far too often. The .236 average is abysmal and is greatly affected by five players hitting below .200.

Jeff Baker, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather and Marlon Byrd are a combined 10-for-93, good for a .108 batting average. Of course, Mather and DeWitt have just 10 at-bats each and Baker has 13, so it is far too early to get on their case about anything. Byrd's struggles are well-documented, but Soto's have not been discussed much.

The Cubs catcher is just 4-for-29 at the plate, but does have a double, triple and homer. He has hit a couple of balls hard, just right at people.

Steve Clevenger has been a pleasant surprise, going 6-for-10 to start the year after beating out Welington Castillo for the backup catcher spot. Clevenger is also 2-0 in starts this season, while Soto is just 1-7.

Starlin Castro is one of the few bright spots on the offense, hitting .359 with three doubles and a league-leading six steals in six tries. He has been awfully aggressive on the basepaths so far and may very well steal 30-40 bags this year.

Newcomer David DeJesus boasts a stellar 6:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio and leads the team with eight runs. He has a .300.432.367 line and has been great at the top of the order.

Sluggers Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano are also off to hot starts. LaHair has a 1.119 OPS and is the only Cub with more than one homer. Soriano doesn't have an extra-base hit yet, but his .313 AVG and .343 OBP are welcome signs, as is his 7 RBI out of the cleanup spot.

This Cubs team won't out-slug anybody and will rely on timely hitting to pick up victories. If they can average 4.0 runs per game the rest of the way, that will be a win.

Though, I'm sure new manager Dale Sveum and front office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would also like to see hitters increase their plate discipline and cut down on their strikeouts as the season wears on.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.