MESA, Arizona — If there is an actual battle going on this spring between Hayden Wesneski and Adrian Sampson for the fifth rotation spot, the games of the last two days likely decided the winner.
Wesneski threw four perfect innings against the Dodgers Saturday. Sampson, who has been plagued by the long ball this spring, served up two more Sunday to the Brewers — he’s allowed eight homers this spring in 8⅓ innings and has a 14.04 ERA — and the Cubs dropped Sunday afternoon’s contest 5-3.
The usual caveats apply: Spring numbers not meaning much, small sample sizes, Wesneski supposedly needing development — wait, let me talk about that last one. Wesneski is 25. He’s gotten MLB hitters out in regular season games and looked dominant doing it. He’s gotten hitters out in spring games and looked dominant again. I keep writing that his “table is ready,” and to me, this looks like a pitcher who should at least be a solid rotation guy, if not a star. Give him the spot and put Sampson in the bullpen. The homers are somewhat alarming, even in the thin air of Arizona, because Sampson had issues with that last year, too.
A couple of other notes on this loss.
- In relief, Keegan Thompson, Michael Fulmer, Rowan Wick and Manuel Rodriguez each threw a scoreless inning. I think Fulmer has the best claim to be the closer on Opening Day. We’ll see what David Ross decides.
- Brandon Hughes allowed a pair of runs to the Brewers in the seventh, putting the game out of reached, though one of the runs scored on a passed ball.
- The sub Cubs tried to make a game of it in the ninth. Luis Torrens, who has hit well this spring and undoubtedly will be catching at Triple-A Iowa, walked with one out, advanced to third on a double by Cole Roederer (wow, there’s a prospect whose status has fallen) and scored on a ground out. The Cubs had the tying run at the plate with two out in the ninth and a runner on third, but Christopher Morel smacked a line drive right to shortstop to end it.
Attendance watch: On the warmest day of the spring so far, 15,326 paid to see the Cubs and Brewers. That makes the total for eight Cactus League dates 99,190, or 12,399 per date.
The Cubs are off Monday, one of two off days this spring. They will resume Cactus League play Tuesday night against the Rockies at Sloan Park, the only home night game this spring. Game time Tuesday is 8:05 p.m. CT. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and as of the time of this recap, the Rockies had not announced a starter for Tuesday. TV coverage is via Marquee Sports Network. There will also be a radio broadcast Tuesday on 670 The Score.
I’m going to spend the off day Monday at a World Baseball Classic game, USA vs. Canada at Chase Field. That’s a night game at 9 p.m. CT. I’ll recap all the WBC action here Tuesday morning.
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