Sunday afternoon, I sat down to watch the Cubs with undivided attention for the first time in 2022. On Thursday, work was especially busy in the afternoon and though I followed the game, the most attention I was able to give it was listening to the end of it while I worked out at the gym. Saturday, I was tied up too with what was a big day for my family. I’ll get back to that in a moment. But the point is, I sat down to watch the Cubs start to finish for the first time. That start was glorious, but man the rest of that game was a grind.
As a proud papa, I have to talk about Saturday. Saturday afternoon, my daughter was in the broadcast booth for both ends of a doubleheader for the Bradley Braves. There were the first two of what we hope to be many games for our daughter who is a freshman sports communication major at Bradley. She already got her feet wet in the fall calling hockey, but this was her first go at baseball where she hopes to eventually land.
I think it is a meme as old as civilization that one generation always worries about the next. Those of us who are Gen X or earlier do a lot of gnashing of teeth about this younger generation and where they will bring us. But I will tip the cap here, they don’t spend a lot of time sitting on the couch and dreaming. Where I would sit and dream on the fact that I’m sometimes giving a blurb or breaking down the situation before the announcer goes on to say the same thing, she’s out there getting trained and getting experience to go and do it. There’s a certain fearlessness to it that is just so enviable.
But about those Cubs. What do we make out of this weekend? After watching this first full game, I tried to quantify my thoughts. And I think my answer depends on how close I’m looking. When I zero in on this game, this is a frustrating loss. After winning the first two and then having Freddy Peralta on the ropes in the first inning, you had to be thinking sweep. But the Brewers really slammed the door on the Cubs offense after that first inning.
When I pull back, I have to look at this whole first weekend. The front office put effort into improving the plate discipline and contact skills for this team. I think that was on display most of the weekend. On Sunday, some talented pitchers really clamped down on the Cubs. I had to go look at Brent Suter’s career numbers against the Cubs. I feel like I must have seen all of the good appearances he has had against the Cubs because his numbers are good but not great against them historically. Josh Hader never having allowed a run at Wrigley Field is a pretty crazy stat. Particularly because the Cubs do have a few memorable runs against him in Milwaukee. It’s hard for me to look at this opening weekend and see it as anything other than successful. Sweeping the favorite in your division is always going to be a tall order. Doing it against their top three pitchers is going to really make it rough. They at least were in a position to win. I have to be happy with that.
When I pull way back, I still can’t say that I’ve come away thinking I was way out of line seeing this as a 74-win team. I still think all too many days this team will just be overmatched. On Sunday afternoon, with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ out of the lineup and a lot of guys who are relatively new to the organization, this did feel a little like a split squad spring lineup. I was sorry to see that because I know this game meant a lot to Marcus Stroman who pitched very well in it. He deserved better.
So my general impression is that I’m happy with what we’ve seen, but I’m still skeptical to think that any great corners have been turned. This is certainly a time when I wish to be wrong.
Let’s get to the numbers.
Game 3, April 10: Brewers 5 at Cubs 4 (2-1)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Seiya Suzuki (.211). 1-3, HR, BB, RBI, R, K
- Hero: Clint Frazier (.178). 0-3, BB, R, 2K
- Sidekick: Marcus Stroman (.150). 5IP (19 batters), 2H, 3BB, R, 3K
- Billy Goat: Jesse Chacez (-.454). ⅔ IP (5 batters), 2H, B, 3R, K
- Goat: Dean Norris (-.162). 1⅓ IP (5 batters), H, R, K (L 0-1)
- Kid: Nick Madrigal (-.158). 0-4
WPA Play of the Game: With on out and a runner on second in the sixth inning, the Cubs were leading 3-2. Jesse Chavez pitched to Rowdy Tellez. Tellez homered to give the Brewers the lead. (.309)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Seiya Suzuki batted with runners at first and second with two outs in the first. Suzuki homered off of Freddy Peralta to give the Cubs an early three-run lead.
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Ian Happ +5
- Seiya Suzuki +3.5
- 2 Players +2
- 2 Players -3
- Patrick Wisdom -5
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Up Next: Drew Smyly finally makes his Cubs debut on Tuesday on the road in Pittsburgh,