NEW YORK — Ben Zobrist has been a force at the top of the order for the Cubs the last two nights. Kyle Schwarber had a week’s worth of RBI in his first two innings off the bench Friday.
But as the season moves toward summer, the Cubs know they will go only as far as their starting rotation will take them.
And nobody knows that better than right-hander Tyler Chatwood, the walk-prone starter who made progress in the Cubs’ 7-4 victory against the Mets after his two worst starts of the season.
‘‘The talent in our whole rotation is amazing, and it’s just a matter of [the fact] you’re going to struggle throughout the year,’’ said Chatwood, who walked four but pitched into the sixth after failing to get out of the third in back-to-back starts. ‘‘You’re going to have to grind. Mine’s just grinding early. It’s a matter of clicking and get rolling and then don’t lose that feeling.’’
Chatwood’s encouraging start — he gave up two runs on a third-inning home run — came a night after struggling left-hander Jose Quintana pitched six scoreless innings Thursday to beat the Mets.
It came two or three days before struggling right-hander Yu Darvish is to start throwing again for the first time since landing on the disabled list (triceps) for the second time in three weeks.
If even two of those three can start pitching close to as well as Jon Lester (2.71 ERA) and Kyle Hendricks (3.19) have, the Cubs could put a quick end to what has been a roller-coaster ride through two months.
‘‘It’s huge,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘And they’re going to. It’s just a matter of time with all of these guys to get it where they normally are. The back of the bubble-gum card reads well, and it’s going to look like that again by the end of the season.’’
Darvish and Chatwood were the Cubs’ two biggest investments during the offseason, signed to $126 million and $38 million deals, respectively.
Chatwood said the transition has been easy because of the personalities on the team and the strong clubhouse culture.
His big issues have been ‘‘self-inflicted’’ command problems he tried to solve Friday by pitching exclusively out of the stretch and by separating his hands earlier to avoid the glove tap he said had begun to affect how well he could repeat his delivery.
From the mental side, however, he said he identifies with Darvish, who has had a more difficult adjustment.
‘‘We’ve talked a lot,’’ Chatwood said. ‘‘When you’re on a new team, with new fans, you want to impress them and show them how nasty you are rather than doing what you know how to do. I think the track record shows why you’re here. Obviously, you were good in the past; you don’t have to do more. That’s just the nature of humans.’’
And a common response to big free-agent deals.
‘‘People think you get your money and you’re good, you’re all set,’’ Chatwood said. ‘‘That’s not how it is. The hardest thing is trying to show that you’re worth it, when I feel like it’s the opposite. You should go out there, do what you’ve done to make you worth it.’’
Chatwood said the changes felt good until his two-walk sixth and called the start a ‘‘positive step.’’ He seemed even less concerned about Darvish’s ability to rebound.
‘‘He’s got a big-time track record of being great,’’ Chatwood said. ‘‘The big thing for him is just get healthy, come back, and we know what we’re getting. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he is the same Yu Darvish that we’ve all seen, and he’s probably very excited to get back out there and show everybody that, too.’’