Kris Bryant is beginning to show his potential. Will his improving play, along with the rest of the young lineup, place the Chicago Cubs in playoff contention?
Who remembers Kris Bryant’s first game?
He was called up from the minors on April 16th and not without a lot of fanfare.
His Chicago Cubs debut was a dismal performance on April 18th. Bryant faced star pitcher James Shields of the San Diego Padres. Bryant struck out four times against Shields and Padres pitching. This included striking out while swinging on the first three pitches he saw from Shields.
There were all types of hype that surrounded him. There was praise from his Iowa Cub coaches. Many scouts were reveling on his power and bat speed, all of whom were many of the Wrigley Field faithful expecting a memorable first outing from their new hitter.
What they got was a rookie who appeared nervous in his first Major League Baseball at-bats. Feeling stung and snookered from the buildup, the fans booed him mercilessly.
The next two weeks came and went with a lot of chatter. Where was the power? That was the question by many Cubs fans. Bryant went homerless in 11 games in the month of April. As the batting average slowly rose, the power numbers were lacking. His first career home run did not come until May 9th. It was during a 12-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Nearly a month in his first MLB season as a power-hitter and the first home run was hit. One has since passed and Bryant has hit three more dingers, driving in eight runs as a whole. The Cubs are 6-1 since Bryant’s first major league home run.
Kris Bryant’s hitting, along with the rest of the Cubs batters are keeping them relevant. Fans should expect that trend to continue. The Cubs will continue to be relevant this year. Because of Bryant and the young hitters they will be playoff contenders, especially if their big acquisition continues to perform well.
The offseason signing of pitching ace Jon Lester is starting to pay off. Before he began throwing better, it was the offense that kept the Cubs in games. Lester pitched a gem in his last outing, a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has three quality starts in his last four games. Also, his ERA is dropping, currently standing at 3.70. That is a far cry from the 6.23 ERA he had in the month of April.
There are some other issues the Chicago Cubs will have to fix, namely the bullpen, but they are a year ahead of schedule. Much of that is due to the improving Kris Bryant and the young hitters in the Cubs lineup.
(Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)