After a 60-game sprint to the finish in 2020, Major League Baseball is back to its usual 162-contest grind this season. Many people think about a season as a collection of series, a set of 24 weeks, or a first and second half. I personally prefer to use a month-by-month approach.
There are six months in a season, give or take a couple days. If your team has a winning record in four of those months, chances are good they will have a winning record for the year. Anything less and the playoffs get to be a pretty dicey proposition.
Teams can also have what I like to call a mega month, which is basically winning or losing more than 20 games before turning the page on the calendar. A mega month can make your year or wreck it.
The Cubs’ 2021 season started on shaky ground with talk of rebuilding and pending free agents. I debated whether to bring back the month-in-review articles, but it makes sense to continue because they’re still playing the games. With that said, let’s dive into a disappointing April.
The Cubs finished April with an 11-15 mark and a -14 run differential. A four-game winning streak in the middle of the month briefly moved Chicago over .500 at 10-9, but a 1-6 skid followed as the starting pitching faltered.
The feast or famine offense was in full effect as the Cubs scored 53-runs in four wins and a grand total of 61 in the other 22 games. The pitching was bad as well, putting up a 4.89 April ERA that was the fourth-worst in baseball.
Who Was Hot?
Kris Bryant tore it up with a 1.087 OPS and 16 extra-base hits that easily tops his injury-impacted 2020 stats. It may also make him a more inviting trade target. Speaking of which, closer Craig Kimbrel was in full Dirty Craig mode with no runs allowed in 10 April innings.
Who Was Cold?
This was pretty hard to narrow down with so many players slumping. Ian Happ rocked an ugly sub-.500 OPS that moved him off the leadoff spot. David Bote also finished under the Mendoza Line in a starting role. Joc Pederson flopped before a wrist injury knocked him out of action.
Kyle Hendricks’s typical slow start was a lot slower than usual. The Cubs ace has already allowed 10 homers this season, more than half of the 19 he surrendered in all of 2019. Zach Davies was even worse, getting shellacked for 20 runs in 18.2 innings.
The one real bright spot for the Cubs was a three-game sweep of the Mets at Wrigley from April 20-22. Jake Arrieta pitched a gem in the opener and the series marked their first consecutive wins since April 5. Javy Báez hit a grand slam to cap off a 16-4 rout in the middle contest and the final game of the series ended on a 10th inning walk-off single from Jason Heyward.
Game of the Month
The Cubs crushed the Braves 13-4 at Wrigley Field on April 17 as Bryant and Willson Contreras each hit a pair of homers in the romp. Chicago hit a total of six longballs at the Friendly Confines that sunny Saturday.
One month down, five to go.