Two starts is too early for any spiking of footballs. But through those two starts, I’m delighted that I went with the easy choice for best Cubs starter. Marcus Stroman has been nothing short of fantastic. To be fair, they were two starts in cold weather. But, there are plenty of guys all across baseball making two starts in cold weather who haven’t started the season 2-0 with no runs allowed through 12 innings.
It’s fun to see Marcus succeeding. Last year, we saw flashes of how good he can be. But we also saw some injuries, at least one illness and some inconsistency. But he’s been good, if not great in the early going. But he has flashed great, particularly when he’s need it. Through two starts, he’s come up with a strikeout or a ground ball every time he’s needed it. No pitcher is going to strand every runner he sees all year. There will be some regression. But make no mistake, this isn’t just look, he’s pitching very well.
Friday, he wasn’t as crisp as the first time out. Despite only allowing two hits, he did walk three and hit a batter. Still, just six runners and six strikeouts in six innings. If you blend that with keeping the ball in the park, as he has, you just aren’t going to get into too much trouble. He pitched around it when he needed to and kept the Rangers off of the board.
The Cubs didn’t light up the scoreboard, but they made the most of five singles, a double and two walks, blending them together to produce two runs. The pitching was strong enough to make that hold up. With the win, the Cubs even their record for the young season with three wins and three losses.
We turn our attention to three positives from Friday afternoon’s win.
- Marcus Stroman, obviously. Enough said.
- I wrestled with this one a lot. I think Michael Fulmer gets the nod here. Seven batters to record the final six outs in a two-run game. He struck four of them out. That’s a great performance in a tight game.
- Honorable mentions here to Mark Leiter Jr. for a perfect inning, Ian Happ with an RBI double and Cody Bellinger with an RBI single. I instead went with Nico Hoerner for collecting two more hits at the top of the lineup. He didn’t score or drive anyone in, but we’re looking for a table setter there and this fits the bill.
And then, we turn to the Heroes and Goats from Friday’s win.
Game 6, April 7: Cubs 2, Rangers 0 (3-3)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Marcus Stroman (.358). 6IP (23 batters), 2H, 3BB, 6K, HBP (W 2-0)
- Hero: Michael Fulmer (.143). 2IP (7 batters), H, 4K (Sv 1)
- Sidekick: Cody Bellinger (.082). 1-3, RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Dansby Swanson (-.132). 0-4, R, SB, K, DP
- Goat: Trey Mancini (-.048). 0-3, 2K
- Kid: Tucker Barnhart (-.045). 1-3, R, DP
WPA Play of the Game: With two outs and a runner on second, the game was scoreless when Cody Bellinger stepped to the plate. He singled, giving the Cubs their first run. (.125)
*Rangers Play of the Game: With the Cubs still up 1-0, Josh Smith was hit by a pitch by Marcus Stroman to start the inning. (.060)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Nico Hoerner (2-4)
Somebody else (Leave a suggestion in the comments)
Last Game: Ian Happ (Superhero is 4-1 in voting)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Marcus Stroman +6
- Ian Happ +5
- Justin Steele/Patrick Wisdom/Eric Hosmer +3
- Julian Merryweather/Drew Smyly/Miles Mastrobuoni -3
- Yan Gomes/Cody Bellinger -6
Up Next: Game two of the weekend (and season) series between these two clubs. The Cubs will send Justin Steele (0-0, 0.00) to the mound for his second start of the season. Martin Perez (1-0, 1.59) will also be looking to carry forward a strong first start.