Morning Cubs Roundup: Chatwood makes a statement
today at 7:54 am
Last Game: Cubs 9, Brewers 1
Up Next: Cubs @ Reds, 5:40 CST, Marquee
One day after the sky fell the sun rose on time and in the East. It did not reveal the charred remnants of a wasted Cubs season which many feared. A hot and muggy morning turned into a hot, muggy and windy afternoon. Game time came and the Cubs played another ballgame. Not under the residue of fear and angst which coated many fans, but playing with confidence while battling through the residue of… well, just sweat.
Tyler Chatwood took the mound for the team. It marked the return to the rotation full-time for the 2018 free agent bust as a starter turned solid 2019 swingman. Given Saturday’s outcome and Chatwood’s massive struggles two years ago I do understand why fans approached this game with trepidation.
Saturday was tough to observe but I had shrugged it off by the time for the first pitch. A 60-game season may be considered more of a sprint-rather-than-marathon, but losses are still going to happen, and some of those losses are going to be ugly.
I’ve questioned the Cubs rotation overall heading into this season but I’m a believer in Chatwood. I’m even very open to extending him beyond this season. His stuff has not diminished during his tenure with the club. Heck, judging by how he pitched on Sunday, it is possible his stuff has improved. It is time to put his 2018 failures to rest. Chatwood walks guys, always has and likely always will, but his 19.5% walk rate in 2018 was an outlier.
His masterful performance on Sunday showed everyone why there is hope for this rotation and this team. Tyler Chatwood has the stuff to be a good #3 starter. Consistency is always an issue for Chatwood, but that “it is only a 60-game season” refrain has a flipside: Chatwood doesn’t need to hold it together for 30+ starts, he only needs to string together about 10-12.
- Chatwood relied heavily on his two-seamer and cutter yesterday. The two-seamer induced a ton of weak contact, and also froze a couple of lefties as the pitch trailed back over the inner edge. His cutter was the real weapon. He varied the speed and break, sometimes throwing it more like a hard slider in upper-80s, other times with a hard, late break in the low-90s. Chatwood threw the cutter 26 times, generating 6 whiffs, 4 called strikes, while the Brewers put just two into play.
- Kyle Schwarber remains locked in at the plate. He’s showing good patience to wait for a pitch he likes and then attacks it when he gets it.
- The same can be said for Ian Happ.
- It was good to see Jason Heyward driving the ball to the LCF gap in his final two at-bats. That is usually a sign of good things to come for him.
- Nico Hoerner delivered two more hits. He isn’t showing a ton of patience but his contact skills and pitch recognition are on point right now. He is spitting at breaking balls and swinging away at fastballs. According to Statcast Hoerner has four hard hit balls and has yet to swing-and-miss in his seven plate appearances so far this season.
Injuries, Updates, and Trends
- The Cubs placed lefty Brad Wieck on the 10-Day IL with a hamstring pull suffered during his first outing. It happened after he allowed the two-run home run to Christian Yelich in Saturday’s game.
- Replacing Wieck on the active roster is righty Ryan Tepera. Tepera was late getting through the intake process during camp, so he was a little behind the other bullpen arms he was competing against but he is one of the more proven arms the Cubs brought in this offseason. His slider looked terrific in his final exhibition outing so hopefully he is rounding into shape. He should provide ample competition for Dan Winkler, Duane Underwood Jr., Dillon Maples, and James Norwood for the final two bullpen spots once rosters are trimmed down to 26.
- Robel Garcia was claimed off waivers by the Reds. The Cubs designated him for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Josh Phegley on the 40-man roster. Garcia was one of the great feel good stories in all of Major League baseball last summer but the emergence of Nico Hoerner and the additions of Jason Kipnis and Derek Dietrich made his skillset somewhat superfluous. None of his replacements can match his power, but all make much more frequent contact, which is the complimentary skill the Cubs were pursuing this offseason.
- DH count: Caratini 2, Contreras 1
Morning Cubs Recap