It’s never a good feeling when you write an article boasting the Cubs’ powerful offense while slightly roasting their pitching, after which the team goes out and wins a 16-12 slugfest. Blame it on the high skies in Arizona. That was my dad’s go-to excuse every spring.
“Hell I could take [Ken] Holtzman deep 3-4 times a game in Arizona. It’s like hitting a golf ball with a paddle out there.”
My father hated “Crybaby” Holtzman (as he called him) and if he was alive today and watching yesterday’s game he’d probably show similar distaste for Rowan Wick. The stout righty gave up five earned runs and couldn’t complete a full inning of work. Hey, spring training is all about working through the glitches, am I right? Maybe the gurus from the team’s vaunted pitch lab were looking for data to quantify as to whether this year’s baseball is juiced or not, using Wick as the control portion of their mad experiments.
Dad was convinced that throwing so many pitches in Cactus League play is what caused Chicago’s annual June swoon. Maybe he was on to something. Wick threw a crap ton of pitches before he was mercifully removed from yesterday’s game.
The good thing is that exhibition baseball means nothing and stats don’t carry over to the regular season. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned. Wick is being counted on to be a big part of of the North Siders’ bullpen this season, so leaving his first outing with a 67.50 ERA wasn’t the optimal way to start the season.
But hey, those bats!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 24, 2020
Cubs News & Notes
- Tyler Chatwood believes he is on the verge of a breakout year. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and the rest of the team’s pitching coaches have a high level of confidence in the the righty as well (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Chicago catchers now have four homers this Spring. Josh Phegley hit a bomb yesterday and finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, then PJ Higgins went deep as well.
- Albert Almora Jr. is on fire. The outfielder is now 5-for-5 in Cactus League play and hit his first home run of the exhibition season yesterday.
- Yu Darvish threw a successful BP session yesterday and is scheduled to start against the Brewers on Saturday.
- Darvish said he would be honored to be named the team’s Opening Day starter.
- Apparently, there have been a few issues with Marquee Sports Network for DirecTV subscribers. The purpose of spring training is to work out the glitches.
- Reliever Dakota Mekkes hit 96 mph on the radar gun Saturday. That’s pretty impressive.
- Brennen Davis and Brailyn Marquez each made Keith Law’s Top 100 prospect list, Nico Hoerner and Miguel Amaya did not. Law tends to include guys with premium ceilings over those with high floors, so I get the Hoerner omission. But Amaya?
MLB Spring Training Notes
The Astros and Tigers played yesterday and Houston players were roundly booed once again. Shocking. José Altuve was also nicked by a pitch, though it was said to be accidental. The ‘Stros are going to be the most popular road draw this season for all the wrong reasons.
The Phillies are giving their beloved mascot “The Phanatic” a makeover, and Philadelphia fans are angry about the changes.
Odds & Sods
Happy Fat Tuesday. Get you some bad calories through delicious but poor food choices.
— Crain's Detroit Business (@crainsdetroit) February 25, 2020
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous mailed me a $500 check to put toward my GoFundMe campaign and I wanted to acknowledge that much-needed gift. It puts me at 33% of my goal. I see the transplant specialist tomorrow morning at seven. Fingers crossed.
I’ve also received a ton of friendship bracelets, books, trinkets, baseball cards, and even a couple of vintage Playboy magazines from the same reader who keeps sending one per week.
In case you are wondering I plan to write tomorrow’s article tonight or in the morning before I go in. With the way Evan is pumping out content lately, the last thing I want to do is drop another assignment on his plate.
If you could rename the Cubs, what would you call them? Obviously you will have to put history aside when choosing. What about the Blobfish?
Hardball Times: Question: What Do We Call the Team This Day? (National League) https://t.co/yOim1hl3S3
— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) February 25, 2020
They Said It
- “I didn’t just rely on the fastball. I was able to use the information I got from Tommy and Borzy [associate pitching coach Mike Borzello] about how good my curveball is and how I need to use it. I always thought whenever I tried to punch a guy out, I needed to throw the best curveball I’ve ever thrown. So I’d always bounce it. They told me my curveball in the zone plays just as well as out of it. That was the biggest difference, being able to throw it for a strike and then maybe a little lower or in the zone for a punch out.” – Tyler Chatwood
- “There’s people that have always been there. It’s just me listening and actually opening up to new advice… It was an important year in my life that I needed to go through and experience.” – Albert Almora, Jr.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Smooth Sailin’ by Leon Bridges. The Cubs offense is clicking on all cylinders right now.