OSS: Cubs power their way past some sloppy play.
- Ian Happ started this game off with a bang, sending the first pitch of the 2018 season into the RF seats. Rizzo and Schwarber followed him later in the game, and I'm a little surprised in retrospect that the Cubs had *only* three homers in this one.
- The 2017 Cubs bullpen numbers were overall better than we remember, probably mostly because everyone was out of gas by the playoffs and Joe pretty much only trusted Duensing and Davis. Improving the pen was a big priority this offseason and it paid off today as they pitched 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball in relief of a meh Jon Lester. Cishek in particular shined in this one, coming in with runners on the corners and a one run lead in the fourth. Former Cubs Castro and Bour are probably the only real big league hitters in the Marlins lineup, and he struck out Castro and got a flyout from Bour to escape the jam. Justin Wilson had a clean inning, and even though he was with the team last year he was such a trainwreck that it feels like the Cubs got a new guy this year. Cubs relievers did issue three walks, but baby steps.
- While Cishek was the overall team WPA leader on the day, the highest score among hitters went to none other than Jason Heyward. He drew a bases loaded walk in the first against an extremely wild Jose Urena, and scorched a double down the line his next time up. He also drew a catcher's interference in the seventh that eventually led to an insurance run. I guess he found the market efficiency in his unfolding-lawn-chair swing.
- Jon Lester just didn't have his best stuff today. His control seemed pretty good, but he didn't have a good handle on his breaking stuff and thus spent too much time nibbling. When he did get closer to the plate the Marlins made him pay. It's still early, I wouldn't worry too much about this unless it goes on for another month.
- The Cubs defense didn't do Lester any favors either. Russell tried to make a low probability throw deep in the hole in the first inning that went into the dugout and led to the Marlins first run. Schwarber later faceplanted into the wall on a triple to lead off the Marlins third, which was followed by him overcharging a ball three batters later that led to another little league triple for the Marlins. To be fair to Schwarber I'm not sure many LFs get that first one, but it wasn't a good look. He's better than this, but having this happen in a relatively well watched game is only going to bake opinions in the minds of many fans.
- Joe Maddon is in midseason form, as evidenced by him sending a relief pitcher to the plate with a one run lead. At least there were two outs and nobody on at the time.
Next up: Kyle Hendricks takes on Caleb Smith at 6:10 PM CT tomorrow