The Cubs are off to their best start since 1969, and are 9-3 after two weeks. The Cardinals are starting to gain some momentum, as they’ve won 7 of their last 8 games. The Pirates have lost 6 of 9, but they are coming off a series win over the weekend against the Brewers. The Reds have lost 5 of 6 after their 5-1 start, and have fallen to .500.
|St. Louis Cardinals||7-5||2.0 GB|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||7-6||2.5 GB|
|Cincinnati Reds||6-6||3.0 GB|
|Milwaukee Brewers||5-7||4.0 GB|
The Cubs finally lost their first series of 2016 over the weekend against the Rockies. Other than that, everything is going right for the Chicago Cubs. They are off to their best start since 1969. They are 9-3 on the season, and have a run differential of +40. The Cubs team ERA of 2.46 is the second best in the MLB, and their 115 team wRC+ is sixth in the MLB.
Highest Run Differential – 1st 9 Games of Season In Modern Era
1999 Indians +44
1905 Giants +43
2016 @Cubs +43
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 15, 2016
Dexter Fowler is off to a tremendous start. He is the only position player in the MLB to be worth a full win (1.0 fWAR). He is hitting .417/.553/.722 with 2 HR and 9 runs scored. Fowler didn’t re-sign with the Cubs until late February. He had reportedly signed a multi-year contract with the Orioles, and even got a congratulatory text from Anthony Rizzo for signing with the O’s. Fowler declined a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cubs in November, but ended up signing back with the Cubs for a one-year, $8 million deal in February. What a steal for the Cubs.
Jake Arrieta has picked up right where he left off from his Cy Young season last year. Through his first three starts he has a 1.23 ERA/2.77 FIP. He has 20 strikeouts and only 2 walks.
The Cubs will begin next week by traveling to St. Louis for their first series of 2016 against the Cardinals.
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jorge Soler: .400/.476/.800, 2 HR, 6 R, 210 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Ben Zobrist: .056/.217.056, 1 for 18, -9 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR
- Mon (8:09), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) at Cardinals
- Thurs (7:10), Fri (7:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (7:10) at Reds
The Brewers are now 5-7 after the first two weeks. Their team ERA and FIP of 4.97/5.25 are both the 4th worst in the MLB. Their offense hasn’t been much better either, as their team 79 wRC+ is the 8th worst in the MLB.
The Brewers have to be happy with their new starting pitcher Chase Anderson. They got Anderson over the offseason in the Jean Segura deal. Anderson has yet to allow an earned run through his first two starts (11.0 IP, 0 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 9 K).
It should be a fairly easy upcoming week for the Brewers. They’ve got the struggling Twins (3-9) and the Phillies (6-7).
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Chris Carter: .294/.400/.647, 1 HR, 170 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Scooter Gennett: .118/.318/.118, 2 for 17, 6 K, 25 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR
- Mon (8:10), Tues (1:10) at Twins
- Wed (8:10), Tues (1:40) vs Twins
- Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Phillies
The Pirates have struggled since their sweep of the Cardinals to begin the season. They’ve lost 6 of their last 9 games. Their pitching has really let them down early in the season. They have a team ERA of 4.11 (16th in the MLB), and a team FIP of 4.72 (23rd in the MLB).
The Pirates offense has been pretty good though. Their team 113 wRC+ is tied for the 7th best in baseball. The Pirates outfield has been as good as advertised. McCutchen (118 wRC+), Marte (161 wRC+), and Polanco (128 wRC+) are all off to great starts.
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Starling Marte: .400/.438/.633, 1 HR, 3 SB, 189 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Juan Nicasio: 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 4 K, 12.00 ERA, 9.80 FIP, -0.1 fWAR
- Tues (10:10), Wed (10:10), Thurs (9:10) at Padres
- Fri (9:40), Sat (8:10), Sun (4:10) at Diamondbacks
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are starting to roll. They’ve won 7 of their last 8 games. They will look to get back into the NL Central race as they host the Cubs to begin next week. That will be a big early test for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals offense has been lead by two surprising players. Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker has hit .406/.432/.844 with 3 HR, 221 wRC+, and 0.7 fWAR. Hazelbaker was a fourth round draft pick from 2009, but he wasn’t even in the Cardinals top 30 prospects heading into the season.
The other young contributor for the Cardinals is Aledmys Diaz. He was supposed to be the Cardinals SS of the future, but he got rushed along after Ruben Tejada with down due to injury. Diaz is hitting . 406/.424/.813 with 2 HR, 222 wRC+, and 0.7 fWAR. If Diaz keeps hitting the Cardinals will have a good problem to have when Tejada comes back, and then Jhonny Peralta later in the summer.
Jamie Garcia threw a 1-hit complete game shutout on Thursday against the Brewers. Garcia had 10 K and just 1 BB in the game. The Cardinals are hoping this is finally the year that he can stay healthy. Garcia has the capability to be a really great starter.
Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jamie Garcia: 1 GS, 9.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 FIP, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Kolten Wong: .059/.053/.059, -79 wC+, -0.4 fWAR
- Mon (8:09), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) vs Cubs
- Fri (10:40), Sat (8:40), Sun (4:40) at Padres
Nick’s Power Rankings
St. Louis Cardinals ↑1
Pittsburgh Pirates ↓1
Players of the Week
Pitcher: Jamie Garcia, Cardinals: 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 0.58 FIP, 0.6 fWAR
Batter: Randal Grichuk, Cardinals, .353/.560/.824, 2 HR, 1 SB, 250 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
All statistics only include games played through 4/16/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index).
Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.