Chicago Cubs ride pitching, take 2 of 3 from Milwaukee Brewers to open season

The Chicago Cubs opened up their 2022 season in surprising fashion. Despite blowing a three-run lead in Sunday’s finale, the Cubs were able to win the series 2-1 over Milwaukee, a good start to the new campaign.

Despite facing a formidable Brewers pitching staff, the Cubs answered with some great performances of their own on the mound, as well as some timely hitting. Here is went right and wrong for Chicago in the opening series, as well as a glance towards what’s ahead.

What Went Right?

The pitching staff was the main hero of this series. Despite plenty of question marks surrounding starting pitching and bullpen depth, everyone did their part to secure the series win. Ace Kyle Hendricks opened things up with 5.1 innings opening day, allowing only 1 run while collecting 7 strikeouts. 4 relievers managed to maintain a 5-4 Cubs lead into the 9th inning, where closer David Robertson converted the save.

Justin Steele kept things rolling with a 5 inning shutout performance in game 2, and once again the bullpen locked things down, with an impressive 2.2 innings pitched from Keegan Thompson leading to a 9-0 shutout win. While the Cubs did give up 4 runs in the back half of game 3 to lose 5-4, it was undoubtedly a promising start on the mound overall. If the starting pitchers can continue giving the team 5 quality innings on a nightly basis, it should be fairly easy to keep the bullpen rested and ready to finish out close games.

On the offensive side, the Cubs relied on some timely hitting to win games 1 and 2. Tied 1-1 in the 5th, shortstop Nico Hoerner managed to tag a Corbin Burnes slider for a 374 foot home run to give Chicago a 3-1 lead in game 1. Later in the same game, Ian Happ broke a 3-3 tie with a 2 run double to the wall, giving the Cubs just enough to hang on and get the win. Happ collected 2 more RBI’s in game 2, while Seiya Suzuki plated 3 in the rout.

The lineup showed great consistency overall, with nearly every hitter contributing in some way across the three game series. The Cubs also managed to convert on their opportunities, hitting well with runners in scoring positions and scoring late in the game to keep things close. Cubs fans showed be encouraged by the start the lineup has had.

What Went Wrong?

There were not many glaring issues the Cubs had in their opening series. However, there are a few players Chicago fans would like to see settle in a bit more. Of course, it is extremely early in the season, so there is no reason for any major concern, but 3-hole hitter Nick Madrigal struggled throughout the series. Madrigal ended up going 1-11 with walk and a single. The good news is he only struck out twice, but the Cubs will need more from him going forward, especially if he continues to hit at the top of the lineup.

Reliever Daniel Norris also had a tough series. Norris ended up pitching 2.1 innings, in which he gave up 3 earned runs and took a loss. Norris is positioned to be a key middle reliever, so his rough start is slightly concerning. On the bright side, Norris only allowed 2 total hits, one of which is a home run, so expect his 11.57 ERA to drop considerably if he can put together just a few solid outings next series

 What’s Next?

The Cubs will head to Pittsburgh to begin a two game series with the Pirates. The quick back to back gives Chicago a chance to try out the back half of their pitching rotation against a less than stellar opponent. It also allows the lineup an opportunity to settle into a sustainable groove after a hot start. If the Cubs can keep things rolling in Pittsburgh, it would set them up for a nice month of April overall.

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