After a disastrous Opening Day, the Chicago Cubs won their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates to start off their season.
Opening Day could not have gone worse for the Chicago Cubs, as they lost 5-3 to the rival Pittsburgh Pirates, who are expected to finish near the bottom of the league standings. With Cubs fans feeling pessimistic about the team’s chances of contending in 2021, they were calmed down after watching the Cubs winning their next two games to take the series over Pittsburgh.
With the Cubs tied for first in the NL Central standings, here are three takeaways about the team’s first series win of the 2021 season.
The old Craig Kimbrel is back
Remember when the Cubs were ragged on for giving Craig Kimbrel a three-year, $43 million contract in 2019. Even though it is just the start of the campaign, Kimbrel has silenced his critics thus far.
Kimbrel closed out Chicago’s 5-1 victory on Saturday by striking out the side on 16 pitches. He did not earn a save considering the run differential, but it was still a sight to behold especially following what was a brutal spring training for the veteran. Kimbrel did secure his first save in Sunday’s 4-3 win, where he recorded two strikeouts and forced Wilmer Difo to line out to shortstop Javier Baez.
It may be early, but Cubs fans should definitely be excited by Kimbrel’s bounce-back performance in his first two appearances in 2021.
Jake Arrieta’s grand return to the Windy City
One of Chicago’s few big moves of the winter was reuniting with former starter Jake Arrieta on a one-year, $6 million deal. Arrieta was coming off a brutal three-year tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Cubs were looking to find an affordable piece to fill the void left by Yu Darvish in their rotation. So far, so good for both parties.
Arrieta pitched six complete innings for the Cubs, where he surrendered just one earned run on six hits, while striking out five batters and walking one.
Arrieta’s performance does bring optimism to what was supposed to be a weakness for the Cubs — their starting rotation.
Cubs hitting leaves a lot to be desired
While the pitching has been solid for the Cubs through three games, the same cannot be said for the hitting.
The Cubs have a team batting average of .143 (second-worst in league) and an OPS of .548 (fifth-worst), per MLB’s official website. To make matters worse, third baseman Kris Bryant (.333) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.250) are the only two batters in the Cubs lineup to be batting over the Mendoza line. It still is early on in the season, but this should be something to look out for throughout the first month.