The Rundown: Cubs Pummel Rockies, Win Streak at Three, Bellinger Blasts Bomb on Queue, Bullpen Game Tonight

I had a feeling the bats would break out against Kyle Freeland last night, and after a 12-2 win over the Rockies, the Cubs are streaking. That’s three straight for the North Siders as they look for the sweep today, if they can play the game, and I’ve got my eye squarely on Craig Counsell. I was never fond of the way Joe Maddon and David Ross laid up after taking the first two games of a series. I want my manager going for the jugular. None of this meatloaf stuff, please and thank you.

The good news, at least for Rockies fans, is that Freeland lowered his ERA to 27.00 by allowing just seven runs in 3.1 innings.

The Cubs are clicking on all cylinders since dropping the first two games of the season to the Rangers. Javier Assad was fantastic and the Cubs lowered their team ERA to 3.63 with the win. Assad went six innings last night, scattering four hits without surrendering a run. His effort allowed Counsell to rest the bullpen, and that’s a good thing because Chicago’s relievers will get the bulk of the innings tonight.

Counsell needs to get a sweep because the Cubs next host the Dodgers for three games before heading west to play the Padres, Mariners, and Diamondbacks. We’ll have a good idea of how good Chicago is by the time the team returns to Wrigley Field to play the Marlins on April 18. Based on preseason projections, April is the toughest month for Chicago’s North Side Baseballers, and that’s without any games against their NL Central opponents.

Counsell has been a strong second-half manager, historically speaking. I’d like to see what kind of chops he has if he can engineer a strong start against this year’s toughest teams.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” – Patches O’Houlihan

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

The Cubs blasted four home runs on an unseasonably cold night, though the wind was blowing out. Morel hit his second of the year, while Suzuki, Cody Bellinger, and Garrett Cooper all hit their first bombs. Chicago pounded out 14 hits and walked seven times, but struck out in just six of 46 plate appearances. They continue to hover near the league lead in strikeout rate, a big change from previous years going back to at least 2015.

Suzuki’s home run was a frozen rope that left the park at 115 mph. In 24 plate appearances this season, he’s hitting .273/.333/.455 with a 109 wRC+. Ian Happ has a .522 OBP but a .474 SLG, which is a heck of an accomplishment even in a small sample size. Morel is batting .381 with a 1.171 OPS. Nico Hoerner is struggling, however, and he’s yet to go for extra bases while batting just .118.

  • Games Played: 5
  • Record: 3-2 (.600), 3rd place in NL Central
  • Total Plate Appearances: 201
  • Total Strikeouts: 32
  • Strikeout Rate: 15.92%
  • Team Batting Average: .269
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 12-for-44 (.273)
  • Runs Scored: 31
  • Runs Allowed: 22
  • Pythagorean Record: 3-2
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 82.2%, 5.8% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

The Dodgers and Braves have started the 2024 season looking as dominant as expected.

The Astros are responsible for four of the last seven no-hitters dating back to 2022, including the gem by Ronel Blanco on April Fool’s Day.

The Padres have acquired left-hander Jackson Wolf from the Pirates, per announcements from both clubs, with minor league infielder Kervin Pichardo going the other way.

Sonny Gray has been pushed back in his rehab assignment by the Cardinals and will remain out until at least April 14.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is off to a historic start at the plate.

Some people are calling the facial recognition gates at MLB stadiums a “nuclear bomb of privacy” while others say it’s delightful.

The Tropicana in Las Vegas has officially closed to make way for the Athletics’ new stadium. Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever to pull this off.

Juan Soto heads next year’s free agent class, just in case you’re already looking ahead.

If you’d rather prospect hunt, MLB Pipeline offers exact day callup predictions for baseball’s top young stars. Pete Crow-Armstrong is expected to be recalled on June 14, though there is no mention of Caissie, Cade Horton, or Matt Shaw.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Bryce Harper – The Phillies superstar was 3-for-4 with three taters and six ribeyes in a 9-4 win over the Reds.
  2. Cooper – Chicago’s backup first baseman fell a single shy of hitting for the cycle while plating three runs thanks to his first home run as a Cub.
  3. Garrett Crochet – The flame-throwing White Sox hurler earned his first MLB win as a starter by holding the Braves to one run over seven innings. Crochet threw 63 of 93 pitches for strikes and punched out eight Atlanta batters, including Ronald Acuña Jr. twice.

Extra Innings

Pardon me for saying so, but no stadium matches Wrigley Field for electricity. On a night better suited for football and in a game that was already decided, this is pure magic.

They Said It

  • “This is about consistency for Chris [Morel] and kind of getting him over there every day and getting practice over there every day. And then we measure this in [some] bigger chunks to keep improving. The reason why you do things like this is because it affects other parts of the team, and also I think it can make the team better in general. I think he’s getting better. He’s going to have to pass tests, of course, but we’re making progress. We just have to keep trying to make progress. He’s going to have some bad days. We’re going to have to live with that, and that’s OK.” – Counsell
  • “Rain, snow, cold, hot — they’re going to be out supporting. And that’s what makes it really special.” – Bellinger
  • “That’s pretty crazy. I’ve been to a lot of stadiums and I’ve heard people chant [player’s] names but to hit a homer as they’re doing it is pretty special. For them to stay through that — the 30-degree weather and some snow flurries towards the end just shows the character of the city of Chicago. How much they take pride in their sports and that’s something that you love as a player.” – Cooper

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

Glad to have you back Torque! L’Chaim!

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