What kind of player will Anthony Rizzo become? I'll answer that question in a moment; first, praise to Rizzo, who provided all four runs of the Cubs' offense Friday night in a 4-2 win over the Marlins. Rizzo hit both home runs off lefthanded Marlins starter Wade LeBlanc -- that's the first really good thing about this, because it gives him three homers vs. LHP and five vs. RHP in 2013, after scuffling against lefties last year. Second, Rizzo, who is a south Florida native, had his big day in front of dozens of family members and friends in the stands at Marlins Park (these days, that probably accounted for a large percentage of the crowd). It was the second two-homer game of his career (here's the other one).
Rizzo has some very odd splits so far this season.
vs. RHP: .155/.21O/.414 (62 PA) vs. LHP: .296/.4O6/.7O4 (32 PA)
Small sample size and all, but those are pretty much backwards from what you'd expect. I don't get it either.
Now, what sort of hitter will Rizzo become? Some have mentioned Tino Martinez, the longtime New York Yankees first baseman, as a comp. I can see that; someone with midrange power who draws a fair number of walks and plays good defense. One thing Rizzo has going for him that Martinez didn't: Rizzo already has over 600 plate appearances at age 23. Martinez didn't have a full season at first base (for the Mariners) until he was 24, and didn't have his first big offensive season (31 HR, 111 RBI, .293/.369/.551) until he was 27. I could see Rizzo having a year like that this year. Rizzo also stole a base Friday night, his second of the season. I wouldn't expect too much of that; his career high is three, set last year.
Still, if Martinez's career is the comp for Rizzo, we'd take that. Martinez had over 1900 career hits, hit 339 home runs, played in the postseason nine times, and owns four World Series rings. That'd be a really nice career.
The other big news from Friday night's game was Scott Feldman. He had his best start as a Cub (low bar to hurdle, I'll admit), although he nearly threw it away, literally, again, as he did last Sunday in Milwaukee. In the third inning he got Placido Polanco to hit a comebacker; his high throw nearly went into center field, but Darwin Barney made a great grab, landed on second base, and completed the double play. Feldman seemed to settle down after that, inducing many ground-ball outs. He needs to do that to be successful; granted, the Marlins are not a very good offensive team, but maybe he's figured something out. I'd be satisfied if he became a decent inning-eater.
Barney also had three hits Friday night and Dave Sappelt chimed in with two. The bullpen did its job, and Kevin Gregg, amazingly enough, had an uneventful 1-2-3 inning for his second save (Carlos Marmol, were you taking notes?). Despite the Marlins' Joe Mahoney hitting his first career home run, accounting for one of the two Miami runs, the Cubs have still hit more home runs in Marlins Park this year (four) than the Marlins have (two).
So the Cubs have their first baby winning streak of the 2013 season, two games. Granted that it's against a team that really is much worse than the Cubs, but wins are wins. As I wrote before this series began, I'll be disappointed if the Cubs don't win at least three of the four games. We're talking about a team where the owner has been accused of personally mandating the pitching order for a doubleheader last week (though owner Jeffrey Loria denies doing that, and you need to click on that link just to see the photo of Loria accompanying it). Loria has pretty much destroyed the franchise for whom he demanded, and got, his expensive new stadium. All the turmoil seems to have gotten to the Marlins' one star, Giancarlo Stanton, who is off to a horrid start. The Marlins say they won't trade him, but... if I were Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, I'd be trying to bring Stanton to Wrigley Field as a Cub.
The two teams will match up again Saturday night as the Cubs go for three straight; Travis Wood pitches against Alex Sanabia.