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SportsMonday: Harshing The Cubs' Buzz

Everyone picking the locals to go to the World Series, you guys are aware that the Mets' pitching remains the same? And that means it isn't just a little better than the Cubs'? But don't feel bad, North Side Baseball Club. The Mets' pitching is way better than anyone's.

The Cubs have a better lineup but if New York's unbelievably young crew of power arms pitches like it did down the stretch into the postseason last year, having a superior lineup will matter about as much as it did for the Cubs in the playoffs last year.

Now let me also make mention of the fact that, barring big injuries, I don't see how the Cubs don't win at least 90 and make the playoffs. And how cool is it going to be to enjoy a full season of the exploits of young ultra-talented power hitters Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber?

Both the Cubs and Mets have the ace at the front of the rotation, of course. Matt Harvey took the loss Sunday night (4-3) in the season opener against the Royals, but he has the stuff and the mindset to lead New York's staff.

And the Cubs have Jake Arrieta, who in the last three months of 2015 only had the best half season of any starting pitcher in the National League since Bob Gibson in 1968. Bob Frickin' Gibson! But then of course the Cubs drop off while New York continues with "aces on any other staff" Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Cubs No. 2 Jon Lester appears to have worked hard on his fielding issues in the preseason. But he apparently still needs a security blanket catcher (David Ross) who can't hit a lick, meaning that every time he pitches, the Cubs essentially go into battle with two-thirds of a lineup. [Editor's Note: 8/9ths of a lineup?]

And oh by the way, just because he worked hard on his pick-off and defensive throws doesn't mean Lester will improve in those areas. He's been lousy throwing to first (when he hasn't just been stone cold afraid to do so) for a long, long time now.

John Lackey is a solid No. 3 but he's running out of time. In the post-steroid era, pitchers like Lackey have gone back to just about always completely running out of gas at some point between ages 35 and 40. Lackey is 37.

And how the hell is Jason Hammel still this team's No. 4? I thought everyone agreed that this spot in the rotation needed to be upgraded? I've got no major beef with Kyle Hendricks at No. 5, but again, Hammel and Hendricks do not measure up well against the Mets' Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon and they really won't match up well against Matz and Zack Wheeler when Wheeler returns from injury. That is projected to happen around the mid-point of the season.

Speaking of injury, of all the pitchers mentioned in the previous six graphs or so, the guy most likely to get hurt this year is Arrieta. When guys increase their total innings pitched by almost 100 from season to season like Arrieta did from 2014 to 2015 (156.2 to 248.2), injury rates skyrocket the year after. Sorry to harsh the preseason buzz there dudes but probability is probability.

Baseball got this one thing right: There is no need for Chicago baseball teams to open the season at home. And so it is great that both the Cubs and the White Sox will start in California today. The Cubs take on the Angels starting at 9:05 this evening.


See also: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #96: Everyone Is Vine Line Now, on which Rhodes asks Coffman: What if the Cubs had Heyward, Zobrist and Lackey in that Mets playoff series last year? Coffman: They'd have lost in 6.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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