Mid-Season Awards for The Cubbies
The time has come! We’re about halfway through the 2020 MLB season, and it’s time for some Mid-Season Awards for the Chicago Cubs!
Overall 2020 Performance: B+. Two weeks ago this would have been an A+, hands down, no questions asked. A home stand which saw the Cubs go a disappointing 5-7 against the Brewers, Cardinals, and White Sox changes things a bit. The Cubs needlessly lost three games against the Brewers in one-run games after gaining early leads and being unable to produce enough runs after the fact. The Cubs did manage to take three of five from the Cardinals in a three-day span, but the performance against the White Sox was what sank the letter grade. The White Sox outscored the Cubs at Wrigley Field this past weekend 18-7 over a three-day span, and gave up 12 home runs over 27 innings. The team wide-slump hopefully will be a thing of the past now following an impressive outing from Yu Darvish on Sunday, which saw the Cubs ace go 7.0 IP while giving up just 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and striking out 10. Despite the rough home stand, the Cubs still lead the NL Central by 3.0 games over St. Louis.
Cy Young: Yu Darvish. Darvish’s 2020 season looks even better than his 2019 second half. THIS was the player Theo signed to that six-year mega deal back in 2018. In Darvish’s six starts, he is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA, which leads the Cubs rotation and is the fifth best in Major League Baseball. Darvish also has struck out 44 batters, which leads the entire Cubs pitching staff, and is tied for the fifth best in MLB. Darvish also currently holds a sub-1 WHIP (0.92).
MVP: Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress has appeared in 11 games for the Cubs this season so far, 12.1 innings, boasts a 1.46 ERA, a 2-1 record, and has 3 saves under his belt. As one of the more dependable arms in the bullpen for David Ross, Jeffress has proven that he can play any role the Cubs need him to, as either a clutch setup man or “the guy” while Craig Kimbrel works through his issues to reclaim the closer position.
Biggest Surprise: Ian Happ. Happ has made a resurgence in his career in Chicago this season. After only appearing in 58 games in 2019, and spending a considerable amount of time in Triple AAA Iowa on assignment, the 4th year former top prospect has been nothing short of amazing for the Cubs in 2020. Happ is second on the team in terms of BA, hitting .286, and has the highest OPS. Happ is the only Cub with an OPS over 1.000. While we’re discussing what Happ leads in, he also leads the team in hits, home runs, and doubles (tie with Willson Contreras).
Biggest Letdown: Javier Baez. 2 years removed from finishing as the 2018 NL MVP runner-up, Baez is off to an abysmal 2020. His .200 BA is the lowest on the team, outside of Kris Bryant, who has been playing through a wrist injury and was just recently placed on the 10-day IL. Baez also has a very low, OPS (.600), which is extremely low for the star shortstop. Despite one of their star players playing very poorly, the Cubs still hold an admirable lead in the NL Central race at the halfway marker. Knowing the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs will need all-hands-on-deck if they are to keep their lead and cross the finish line come October still in first. Baez has to play better offensively if this team is going to keep putting runs on the board. Otherwise, David Ross may need to move Javy down in the batting order and get a bat such as Ian Happ in the three spot.
Comeback Player: Tyler Chatwood. Even though he is currently on the 10-day IL, Chatwood is this team’s comeback player of the year candidate. There was a lot of concern around the Cubs fan base when it was announced Jose Quintana would be beginning the season on the IL with a thumb injury. Chatwood’s record as a starter for the Cubs in 2018 was awful, and it’s what sent him to the bullpen following a late 2018 trade with the Texas Rangers for Cole Hamels, and kept him there through 2019. Out of Chatwood’s previous three starts, two were everything you could want to see from the guy. 2-0, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 19 SO combined. His last outing before his trip to the IL began was the Cubs’ worst loss of the season in Kansas City in which he gave up 8 earned runs in just 2.1 innings. We’re going to attribute that performance to the lead up to his injury, and say that Chatwood is more so the pitcher we saw against Milwaukee and Pittsburgh than the one that got shelled in Kansas City.
Primed for 2nd Half Bounce back: Kris Bryant. The 2016 NL MVP got off to a rough start this season. He was held out for a whole weekend justly following MLB protocol for COVID-19 concerns after feeling ill, and just when Bryant seemed to be turning things around, he suffered a wrist injury two weeks ago in Cleveland. Since then, he has played through, “multiple bumps and bruises,” as David Ross calls it, and we can only hope that this IL stint will help Bryant moving forward. Bryant can’t slump forever, and his bat is bound to break out in the second half.
The Chicago Cubs (17-10) will next take on the Detroit Tigers (11-15) tonight at 7:10pm EST. Alec Mills (2-2) 4.76 ERA gets his fifth start of the season, and will square off against Casey Mize (0-0) 6.23 ERA, one of Detroit’s top pitching prospects, in his second start of the 2020 season.