Spring Training Miscellany: Lester Gives Up Dingers, Nico’s Nice Day, More

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Spring Training Miscellany: Lester Gives Up Dingers, Nico’s Nice Day, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs dropped their WILD CARD REVENGE GAME today to the Rockies.

Jon Lester pitched into the 4th inning in this one as he continues to stretch out in advance of his Opening Day start in exactly three weeks. He worked in the zone for most of the day, which wound up costing him a couple homers. That shouldn’t concern you, specifically, today, but watching that during the season will be a thing after Lester’s groundball rate plummeted last year. He actually managed to DROP his HR/9 in 2018 from 2017, but his 1.19 mark was 10th highest among qualified NL starters, and a solid bit higher than the overall league average of 1.09.

Elsewhere today …

  • Although we’re cautious not to read too much into Spring Training results when they look good, we do note them for guys who are working their way back from X, Y, and Z. So it’s only fair to note the reverse: Brandon Kintzler got lit up today, with a walk, and then a whole lotta hits.
  • Brian Duensing, for what it’s worth, remains un-scored-upon this Spring, but it’s useful to note that we haven’t actually heard much about him (pro or con), in terms of how he’s looking after injuries and ineffectiveness made for a disastrous 2018. Because of his big league contract and success in 2017 (and Xavier Cedeño’s wrist injury), the default out of Spring will be to give him a chance if other guys can be IL’d or sent to AAA Iowa. But, yeah, I just don’t have a read on how he’s actually looked.
  • And as SOON as I type that, MLB sends out a video of Joe Maddon discussing Duensing (after more on Tyler Chatwood):

  • Obviously you have to understand that’s a manager talking about a guy in Spring Training, so that lens colors what you hear, but Maddon does suggest that he’s seeing better command from Duensing this Spring than he saw last year during the season. Without excellent command, Duensing is not a competitive reliever. I stand by my initial perspective: he’s likely to get a shot out of the gate in the bullpen, but probably does not have a super long leash as other options are waiting at AAA (and/or get healthy).
  • Bullpen youngsters Dillon Maples and Dakota Mekkes had walk-less appearances.
  • Victor Caratini started at first base today, where he’s perfectly capable and could see big league action this year to get him some more at bats, but the reality is, when you have only two catchers on the roster, it’s a little risky to start both of them in the same game juuuuuust in case something crazy happens.
  • Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner got a start in this one, and ripped an RBI single in his first at bat:

  • Hoerner also had a dribbler for an infield hit against old friend Wade Davis, and then tripled to complete his 3-3 day (he was hit by a pitch in his final plate appearance). Hoerner is definitely the type of guy, right now, who can make contact with a whole lot of pitches, and you hope his power will come along even more as his selectivity increases.
  • WILLSON just keeps on smoking the ball this Spring:

  • New market inefficiency – ball boys on the take:

  • Well that’s just adorable:


  • Meanwhile, over in Florida, Mookie wears a lot of hats:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.