Apr 8, 2021 5 min read

First week gives plenty of reasons for concern in Chicago

First week gives plenty of reasons for concern in Chicago

Good morning, frents!

Four Chicago teams are back in action tonight. The Bulls are in Tampa to play half of a Raptors team, the Hawks are facing a Stars team they've gone 4-1 against this year and both baseball teams are looking to bounce back after dispiriting losses with pitching matchups that should favor them.

Anyone willing to try that all-Chicago parlay again?

Wednesday's results
Brewers 4, Cubs 2
Mariners 8, Sox 4

Today's schedule
Cubs at Pirates (12:35, NBCSCH)
Royals at. Sox (3:10, NBCSCH)
Bulls at Raptors (6:30, NBCSCH)
Stars at Hawks (7, NBCSCH)

Just a little patience?


Brewers 4, Cubs 2 •  Mariners 8, Sox 4

It's only been one week.

But man, what a week.

The opening slate of the Cubs and Sox has already been filled with so much drama that you wonder if all the reactionary types on Twitter and Facebook will survive to see May.

The "marathon not a sprint" reminders are ineffective on these people!

One week into the season and both teams have sprinkled moments of promise among some more conspicuous chunks of concern. The Cubs are 3-3 after a season-opening homestand against the Pirates and Brewers; the White Sox return from the West Coast with a 3-4 record against the Angels and Mariners.

If this week had happened at any other point of the season, it likely wouldn't have been the cause of so much strife. Posting a middling road trip happens. So does struggling at the plate for a series or two.

And yet we know why there is real concern.

Let's start with the Cubs, who are still carrying their offensive struggles of the last few seasons and made sure they'll feel right at home in 2021. The team managed just two hits on Opening Day, came away with just one on Tuesday night and then allowed Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff to enter the seventh inning of Wednesday's game with a no-hitter. They were able to recover to force extra innings, but still posted only three hits on the day.

The Cubs are hitting an MLB-low .124 and have managed just 21 hits, a number so low you'd be able to memorize the whole list without too much trouble. That total puts them five behind the New York Mets and ties them for last in baseball with the Washington Nationals. Both teams have played in exactly half as many games. Positive plate appearances have been so rare that Ian Happ is handing out free waffle makers when someone actually comes through.

So while the starting pitching has been solid and the bullpen less of a question than previous seasons, none of it matters if we're set to watch a team struggle to score runs the next six months.

Then there are the Sox. While the expectations on the North Side were somewhat tempered coming into this season, the same can't be said for the South Side. The hopes for the White Sox have been so high that anything less than a 5-2 start out west probably would've qualified as a disappointment.

That didn't happen and the Sox ended their trip with a self-flagellating Zoom call from Tony La Russa, who repeatedly described his performance in Wednesday's 8-4 loss to Seattle as "lousy."

Leaving Matt Foster out for 34 pitches while he struggled against that M's offense certainly qualifies as that. As does the team's continuing follies on defense and the rotation's inability to control its pitch counts in the early going.

Add in some awful early injury luck — Tim Anderson was placed on the 10-day IL on Wednesday with his hamstring issue — and the Sox aren't exactly rocketing out of the gate.

And that's fine, as long as they start working toward a point of more health and consistency. Last year's team started 11-11 before catching fire and winning 22 of its next 28 games.

Fans of both teams should also be reminded that this year's schedule contains 102 more games than last year's. The 2020 season was an anomaly where urgency was actually a needed ingredient from beginning to end.

2021, though? Well, patience is certainly a bit more permissible.

At least if you're the sort of fan who allows for such a thing.

Today: The Sox hold their home opener against the Royals. Lance Lynn (0-0, 0.00) will face Brad Keller (0-0, 40.50 ERA).

  • The Cubs head to Pittsburgh for the Pirates' home opener. Jake Arrieta (1-0, 1.50) goes against Tyler Anderson (0-1, 5.40) in a rematch of last Saturday's game.

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  1. The Blackhawks' purchase of the IceHogs is complete and the arena in Rockford is going to get a $23 million facelift as part of the deal. Sun-Times
  2. Phil Rosenthal celebrated the 50th anniversary of Harry Caray's first game on the South Side with five stories about his time with the White Sox. Tribune
  3. Tony Stubblefield. met with the media on Wednesday and called DePaul his "dream job." WGN-TV
  4. Michael Jordan is worth $1.6 billion, but he's still a looong ways away from No. 1 on the Forbes list of billionaires. Bleacher Report
  5. The best new donuts in Chicago. Infatuation Chi

Correction: I was so nervous about referring to Brewers reliever Brent Suter as ex-Hawk Brent Sutter that I just went ahead and wrote his name as Bruce Suter in yesterday's newsletter. Because of course I did.

I apologize to all involved.

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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