And the pig has been kicked! Not the cleanest effort, but it didn’t have to be.
What You Need To Know: This Cubs offense is going to be a problem for just about anyone who comes across it. It’s a major crisis for a team that punted on the opportunity to field a major league team like the Marlins. Jose Ureña didn’t have his control, leading to spades of walks and HBPs, and when he did get it in the zone it wasn’t where he wanted, resulting in majestic arcs the other way. Lester didn’t have his best stuff either, and the game got interesting thanks to the performance art that Kyle Schwarber can be in left. But the offense found more, because it usually will, and the ‘pen didn’t have any problems shutting down the ushers and bartenders of which the Marlins lineup consists. First of many, kids.
Next Level: It doesn’t take a ton of patience when you’re getting pelted with pitches, but the Cubs thought they didn’t grind pitchers enough last year. So after Ian Happ very impatiently started the season by turning the season’s first pitch into dust, the Cubs squeezed Ureña with tough at-bats. When the Cubs get the opposing starter out early, there’s a better chance they’ll find a reliever who doesn’t quite have it or has to be extended a bit too much. Tayron Guerrero has the stuff, but a second inning of work proved a bit much for him as Schwarber homered, Addison Russell singled, and Jason Heyward reached due to a catcher’s interference. That set the table for Tommy La Stella to end the proceedings as a contest, which he promptly did. Bullpens sometimes go four or five deep in terms of dominant relievers, but this offense is going to find the soft underbelly before too long every time.
Schwarber had an ugly inning in the field in the third, which saw the Marlins tie the game and pretty much rule out Lester from going long. That’s just going to happen sometimes, but Schwarber isn’t on the hook for Lester walking three guys. The zone was pretty tight, and though Jim Deshaies commented that Lester could benefit from Ureña’s wildness with an impatient ump and the juxtaposition, I wonder if such a scenario just doesn’t get an ump in the habit of calling balls when the top of the first starts that way. Just a theory.
It wouldn’t matter as the ‘pen let up not a damn thing, with Cishek, Duensing, Strop, Wilson, and Montgomery taking it to the house with no muss, no fuss. Between them they let up a hit. I like when that’s singular.
Top WPA Play: Schwarber’s homer to left, which canceled out one of the runs he let in with his glove, in the 7th. (+.133)
Bottom WPA Play: Brian Anderson’s single in the third that Schwarber turned into a triple that scored two. It was all about The War Bear today! (-.147)
Lead photo courtesy Jasen Vinlove—USA Today Sports