Anyone want to keep count out there? I love the energy of Willie Harris and will likely use photos like this one a non-trivial amount of the time. Let’s face it, there wasn’t a lot to love in this one.
Obviously, I was going to be right in both of my “predictions” yesterday. I suggested the starters couldn’t maintain a 0.00 ERA and that Dansby Swanson couldn’t keep hitting .750. With only a single and a walk, Dansby’s batting average dips to .583 and his ops to 1.282. It is certainly time for the Cubs to consider selling high on him.
Jameson Taillon was tasked with carrying the torch after Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele each turned in stellar performances to start the season. He proceeded to faceplant. Not only did the torch go out, but the holder looks dented. All right, it wasn’t that bad. Taillon was charged with three runs on seven hits and a walk over four innings of work. Somehow this performance simultaneously didn’t look that bad but felt much worse. In that, I mean that he wasn’t crisp, but it also wasn’t like he got pulverized. Obviously, if this were a normal performance, it would be alarmingly bad. But. if this would be what a bad outing looked like, he left after four innings having allowed three. It’s not ideal, but it’s not exactly dead and buried either.
The bigger problem is the Cubs bullpen. After being tagged for three runs on Saturday over the final three innings, they were tagged for six more over five innings. Even counting three scoreless on Thursday, that’s nine runs allowed in the first 11 innings of the season for the collective bullpen. That is full out dumpster fire performance.
Take a deep breath. All across baseball there are relievers struggling to get outs. Putting together a starting rotation is hard enough. Putting together a bullpen is amazingly difficult. More than any other players, their performance varies season to season. The guy who was lockdown last year might need to be waived or sent down this year. That said, the Cubs have been very good at this. They will shuffle pieces around probably throughout the month of April. It’s going to be ugly at times. The bullpen will lose some games as they did Saturday and as they greatly contributed on Sunday. But at some point in May, it’ll come together. Likely one or two relatively unexpected guys will emerge to become increasingly important in the pen. Some roles will be changed around and eventually the net will put them among the top third in baseball.
I’m not wasting any more words talking about a clunker of a game. Let’s take a quick look at three positives from this one. If you feel like I missed someone, chime in and let me know.
- It would be criminal not to have Patrick Wisdom here. Two homers. He did a good job of trying to keep the Cubs in this game. And he kind of looks badass with his mirrored shades.
- The game was fairly out of reach before Adbert Alzolay got into the mix. He faced seven batters in throwing two scoreless innings to close out the game. The extra batter was an error by Yan Gomes who had a rough weekend behind the plate.
- Nico Hoerner had a single and a double among his five at bats. In a very small sample, he looks very comfortable leading off. Having Swanson hit behind him is going to provide some good pitches to hit at times.
And now we turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Sunday’s loss.
Game 3, April 2: Brewers 9 at Cubs 5 (1-2)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Patrick Wisdom (.074). 2-4, 2HR, 2RBI, 2R, K
- Hero: Mark Leiter Jr. (.051). IP (6 batters), 2BB, 2K
- Sidekick: Dansby Swanson (.016). 1-4, BB, RBI
- Billy Goat: Julian Merryweather (-.310). ⅔ IP (9 batters), 5H, 2BB, 5R
- Goat: Jameson Taillon (-.153). 4IP (19 batters), 7H, BB, 3R, 2K (L 0-1)
- Kid: Cody Bellinger (-.081). 0-4, RBI, K
WPA Play of the Game: With no outs in the fourth inning, Garrett Mitchell tripled with a runner on first to give the Brewers a 3-2 lead. (.182)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Patrick Wisdom homered with two outs in the second to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. (.115)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Adbert Alzolay (2IP, 7 batters, 3K)
Nico Hoerner (2-5, 2B, R, SB)
Someone else (leave a suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Player of the Game: Justin Steele
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
- Dansby Swanson +4
- Marcus Stroman/Justin Steele/Patrick Wisdom +3
- Yan Gomes/Javier Assad/Jameson Taillon -2
- Julian Merryweather -3
- Cody Bellinger -7
Up Next: The Cubs travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds. The Reds hosted the Pirates over the weekend and took two of three. Drew Smyly makes his season debut for the Cubs. He’ll face Connor Overton, a righthander out of Old Dominion. Connor is making just his eighth major league start, but he has a 3.35 ERA across 15 total big league appearances.