The Cubs score three in the top of the 9th to take the lead, only to give up four in the bottom of the 9th and lose. Once again I say: good thing it’s just Spring Training.
- Facing a lineup of mostly Rockies regulars, Carlos Villanueva made a pretty emphatic case for that fifth starter’s job. Yes, he gave up three earned runs in four innings, but all three came on a Carlos Gonzalez bomb, which you kind of just tip your hat to. Otherwise? Villanueva struck out eight(!) Rockies while walking just one, and giving up just three hits. For me, Villanueva is the fifth starter: he can easily swing back into the pen when Jake Arrieta is ready, he can show some value as a starter, his presence in the rotation to start the year buys the Cubs some time with their bullpen picture and allows them to carry someone like Alberto Cabrera for the time being (rather than having to pass him through waivers). Also: I think Villanueva is probably the best option right now to actually do the best job. That’s no knock on Chris Rusin, by the way. I just really like the idea of Villanueva’s stuff in the cold month of April. It plays very, very well.
- Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, Wesley Wright, and Hector Rondon each got in an inning of work, with the first two giving up an earned run apiece. I still feel like Rondon probably has a spot in the bullpen – his stuff simply looks too good. If you force me to guess on the bullpen right now, it’s those four guys, James Russell, Blake Parker, and Alberto Cabrera (with Villanueva in the rotation, James McDonald on the DL, and Chris Rusin and Justin Grimm, Chang-Yong Lim, and Brian Schlitter at Iowa).
- Javier Baez hit a monster bomb to center field, but you’ve already watched that, right?
- George Kottaras took two walks in his three plate appearances, and I look forward to his .150/.350/.350 line this year. That’s not really sarcasm. What a reviled player he would have been just 15 years ago.
- Mike Olt had a late PH appearance and drew a walk.
- That massively blown save in the 9th, by the way, came off of Paulo Espino, one of the Cubs’ interesting minor league signings this year. He’s a guy who’s had lots of minor league success and simply has never had a shot in the big leagues. For the Cubs, he’s intriguing depth, but that’s all.