Pierce Johnson was the main culprit, which was a bummer to see, since he’d otherwise had such a nice spring in his conversion to the bullpen. I still like him to have a big league future, and here’s hoping he dominates out of the pen at Iowa, and becomes one of the “first up” options when the Cubs need to call down. He could be so very good.
Elsewhere in the game …
- Jake Arrieta ran into trouble in the first inning, giving up four hits (including a homer) and hitting a guy, but also doing that thing where the guys who don’t hit the ball are whiffing at it. All three outs in the inning came by way of a strikeout, and Arrieta would add four more before his four inning were up. The command wasn’t quite what you’d want it to be on certain pitches, but the stuff looked Arrieta-like, and he didn’t walk anyone. In Arizona this time of year, when pitches aren’t going to move as much as they will elsewhere, Arrieta’s performance was pretty much exactly what you’d want to see in a final Spring Training outing. Let’s be crystal clear: it’s probably more likely that Arrieta battles inconsistent command all season long in 2017 like he did in 2016, than it is that he pitches will pinpoint command for an entire half of the season like he did in 2015. But even without that, Arrieta can still be a frontline starter.
- Interestingly, Mike Montgomery followed Arrieta for two innings with a similar appearance. Good looking stuff, did give up hits and damage, but just one walk. Fine. I’ve been wondering whether low-spin fastballs play worse in Arizona than they do elsewhere in the regular season, and I continue to wonder that. And if Montgomery is great again at getting weaker contact with his fastball once the regular season starts, I’m gonna say it was totally this thing for which I don’t have evidence and have only a faint suspicion.
- Brian Duensing followed with two clean innings of his own. Although I still think – if he makes the Cubs – he makes the most sense as a situational lefty, the ability to go full (or even multiple) innings is obviously swell. Insta-bullpen-take: Duensing makes it at this point, even though Montgomery is in the pen, and maybe even if the Cubs carry only seven relievers to start the season (in order to keep Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella (which I think is unlikely at this point), maybe the Cubs option a couple relievers who are otherwise totally going to “make” the pen (like I just said in the last parenthetical inside the parenthetical, I don’t that’s likely – I’m just saying even if the Cubs went that route, I still think a healthy Duensing makes the pen)).
- Jason Heyward absolutely wrecked a double in this one, and the look of it was maybe the hardest ball he’s hit all spring:
Like I said, the Jason Heyward double today was an absolute rocket. pic.twitter.com/HDBUpWalot
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 29, 2017
- Just get the guy into the regular season, and I can’t wait to obsess over every swing like a damn crazy person.
- Speaking of doubles, Ian Happ had two of them in this game that he did not start, because of course he did. Praise aplenty for Happ here in the prospect notes, even as he was cut from big league camp yesterday.
- Cubs first base prospect Yasiel Balaguert homered again in this one, continuing a torrid spring where he was already leading the Cubs in OPS (8 at bats coming into the game). Now he’s up to 2.000, and leads the Cubs by a lot. The sample makes the numbers not worth moving you, so I’ll instead just point out that he’s a guy who has had crazy hot streaks before – the bat has legit potential – but he is also very much a bat-only prospect, who is going to need to absolutely rake in the minors to have any value (a la Dan Vogelbach).
- On the other end of the spectrum, you have today’s other homer-er, Chesny Young. Given his defensive versatility – including the ability to play shortstop, which is always key – Young really only needs to hit passably to become a big league asset. And having playable power is pretty much the only part of his game you need to see at this point. This Spring has been fantastic in that regard.
- David Ross came back for a visit, and:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 28, 2017
- The Cubs just keep blowing it out for spring attendance:
With one game left on the schedule, Cubs draw spring-season-high 15,513 for Arrieta-Cain matchup vs. Giants.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 28, 2017
- The Carolina League champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans were honored at the game:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 28, 2017
- He’s not necessarily totally gone yet, but:
We'll see you when we see you, Muni. pic.twitter.com/vfmgXPOoqS
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) March 28, 2017