Chicago Sports Roundtable: Blackhawks Playoff Picks, Impressions from First Week of White Sox and Cubs Baseball
Join the “TLS” writers in a roundtable discussion every Monday on The Loop Sports! This Week we talk about the Blackhawks opening round match-up with the rival Predators, as well as who impressed and disappointing on each side of town during the first week of the 2017 MLB season.
The Loop Sports Staff Roundtable for the week of April 10, 2017:
The Chicago Blackhawks open their Stanley Cup Playoff run later this week, give us your predictions on their opening round match-up with the rival Predators.
Matt Grabianski: The Hawks’ only loss to Nashville this season was October 14. The Predators are one of two teams with 94 points this season, the lowest number of any in the playoffs. The Hawks are the top team in the West. They’ll be fine.
Patrick Flowers: The Blackhawks are locked and loaded heading into the playoffs this season, and the Predators just snuck into the playoffs with 94 points, tied for the lowest amount of points of any playoff team this season. The Hawks’ have also only dropped one contest to the Predators, and are going into the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs deeper, and healthier than any season in recent memory.
While the Blackhawks always seem to make playoff hockey as interesting as humanly possible with countless overtime and come from behind contests, I don’t expect them to have that much trouble with Nashville this time around.
Who has been the most impressive, and most disappointing thus far on the south side of town during the first week of the 2017 MLB season?
Matt Grabianski: Matt Davidson and (dare I say his name?) Avisail Garcia have both looked great through the first week. I’ll leave the specific statistics to the Sox guys here at TLS, but they’ve been hitting better than anyone else in that lineup, which is completely unexpected.
The obvious answer for “least impressive” is Jose Quintana – getting beat up in his first start was undoubtedly not what Sox fans wanted to see. If that’s any indicator of how the season will go for him, his trade value will be shot and the Sox front office will have a wasted a golden opportunity to swap him for some prospects.
Patrick Flowers: “Best shape of his life” Avisail Garcia, may actually be best shape of his life Avisail Garcia after all. Garcia has been red-hot, collecting nine hits in 19 at-bats during the first week of the 2017 season, and lord we hope we aren’t being toyed with right now, because a scenario in which Garcia turns into what we expected him to be when he was acquired, would make the White Sox future that much brighter moving forward. We shall see in the coming weeks, I’m not sold yet.
Jacob May is hit-less, but he’s a rookie. Jose Quintana has been less-than-stellar in his two starts, but he looked better on Sunday than he did on Opening Day. I’m going to have to go with Todd Frazier at this point, which pains me, because I am a huge fan of the Todd-Father. He is seemingly getting under just about everything, and just collected his first, and only hit of the season on Saturday afternoon. After hitting a team-record 40 homers at the hot corner in 2016, I was hoping to see a more well-rounded performance in 2017, even if it was only to boost his trade value.
Who has been the most impressive, and most disappointing thus far on the north side of town during the first week of the 2017 MLB season?
Matt Grabianski: JASON HEYWARD IS BACK, BABY. Yeah, it’s been six games, but he’s batting .333 with an OPS of .820. Heyward being back just makes this lineup that more dangerous. An honorable mention goes out to Jake Arrieta, who, besides one bad pitch to Ryan Braunon Sunday, has been his second-half 2015 self. His big problem last year was a lack of accuracy, and he’s only walked four in 13 innings of work. The second honorable mention goes to Jon Jay, my new favorite Cub, who was hitting .429 before a 1-4 performance on Sunday.
Least impressive WAS Kris Bryant, but after his 1-16 start, he’s gone 6-10. Pretty much everyone else has also done quite nicely, so that leaves me with Mike Montgomery. He looked really rusty against St. Louis on opening night, giving up the game-winning run, but was pitching like a man possessed in Milwaukee (two straight perfect innings against the meat of the Brewers’ lineup); that is, until he fell apart in the 11th inning and gave up his second walk-off of the year on a wild pitch.
Patrick Flowers: I have to say, Jason Heyward has been pretty good thus far in what the Cubs are hoping to be a bounce-back season, but I’m going to have to go with Kyle Schwarber. The least likely lead-off hitter in baseball, who has already played more games than he did in 2016, has been excellent thus far.
As far as disappointing goes, Kris Bryant has been less himself thus far, and even with his respectable 6-10 since starting out 1-16, Kris Bryant is in my opinion, the best player in the entire National League, and if he’s going to hold that crown, he’s going to need to ramp it up moving forward.