Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cactusThe Cubs dropped one under the lights to the Padres at Cubs Park last night.

  • Carlos Villanueva had possibly his final opportunity to make an impression before the fifth starter job is decided, and he was just so-so: 4 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K. One Spring start isn’t going to decide things in the battle with Chris Rusin, especially given Villanueva’s already well-established track record. That said, Rusin has been so good lately, and putting Villanueva in the pen doesn’t cost anyone their 40-man spot (just costs them a (possibly temporary) demotion to AAA to start the year). It’s a tough decision. On the balance, I’m still probably going with Villanueva if it’s me, but I don’t think there’s a wrong decision here.
  • Speaking of possibly temporary demotions to AAA, Justin Grimm is one of those guys on the bullpen bubble, and he had another crummy outing, in terms of results: 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 K. Spring Training is just Spring Training, but Grimm’s overall numbers are really disconcerting: 8.59 ERA in 7.1 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 3 K. Grimm’s is an interesting story, because we know he’s been a starter most of his career, and we know he’s been working on his pitch mix lately (maybe even this Spring, too). I can think of reasons why his results this Spring might be down that have nothing to do with how he’d actually perform in-season if he got the call. That said, I still think there’s middle-of-the-rotation upside there if he’s just given time to develop his secondary offerings a little bit more at AAA. I’m not sure if the Cubs are committed to him in the pen at this point, but his Spring performance has certainly given the Cubs an excuse to see what he can do back in the rotation at Iowa. As a starter, Grimm probably has more upside than any starting pitcher the Cubs have at the AAA level (it’s just a question of whether he can reach that upside, obviously).

  • Neil Ramirez and Brian Schlitter were already cut, but each struck out the side in his scoreless inning of work. That was kind of an interesting contrast.
  • Jose Veras got knocked around in his inning of work, and hopefully the Cubs’ closer is just showing us how meaningless Spring Training is for established guys.
  • Offensively, the Cubs didn’t really do anything worth noting here. Emilio Bonifacio had a triple. There you go.

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