Cubs Win, Arms Stretching, Stroman Showing Out, Ortega, Gomes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Crazy that the Cubs start their march toward DOMINATING the NL Central THIS week …

•   Well, maybe not that, but they DID win a meaningless Spring Training game last night! Jesse Chavez (3.0 innings), Stephen Gonsalves (2.0 innings), and Robert Gselllman (3.0 innings) covered the bulk of the game in scoreless fashion. Given the Cubs just stretched out Chavez to three innings and over 50 pitches, it’s a pretty good bet that they’re thinking he might be a piggyback at some point this coming weekend. Otherwise, there’s not much point to stretching him out THAT much. It could wind up not working out – best laid plans rarely do – but I do like it on paper, given the Cubs’ rotation situation. Pair Chavez with one of the lefties, and plan that you will get no more than three or four innings from the starter, and then two or three from Chavez.

•   Gsellman is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster, ditto Gonsalves, but I expect he will be stretched out enough to make some shorter starts at Iowa (or long, multi-inning relief appearances) and be a possible call-up. The challenge for those two, relative to Mark Leiter Jr. and Adrian Sampson as the depth starters/long-relievers, is that Gsellman and Gonsalves don’t have any minor league options remaining. So if and when they come up for a spot start, they have to stay up or hit waivers. None of the four are huge upside guys, so the “risk” is marginal, but I do kinda like the possibility of Gonsalves being a breakout, given his unique trajectory. Just seems like the kind of guy the Cubs have had a lot of success with.

•   Meanwhile, Marcus Stroman threw 85 pitches in his intrasquad game yesterday, so he’s basically fully stretched out now for the regular season, and he should be starting for the Cubs on Friday. Per Cubs.com, Stroman dominated: “The right-hander struck out eight, walked one and allowed one hit among the 22 batters he faced. Among the big leaguers who stepped in to face Stroman were Frank Schwindel, Nick Madrigal, Jason Heyward, Jonathan Villar and Seiya Suzuki. That group collectively finished 1-for-10 with four strikeouts and one walk against [Stroman].” A good sign was that Stroman felt good, strong, and mechanically-sound enough to start doing his various hesitation stuff in his delivery.

•   Stroman also did this:

•   That is a stellar pick, and then obviously some fun with the jump throw – but did you see how high he got on that throw? When he was just being really casual? My lord. I bet he can jump extreeeeemely high when he’s trying. The guy is just an incredible athlete.

•   The Cubs continue to start Rafael Ortega exclusively against lefties this spring, and his numbers show it. I could speculate on the reasons, but I think a major component is wanting Jason Heyward to start in center against most righties, even here in Spring Training. Maybe the Cubs know Ortega will be fine against righties even without the game prep, but are more concerned that Heyward needs the ABs? In any case, when you peruse Ortega’s spring numbers, just keep in mind: it’s about what you’d expect for a guy who can’t hit lefties only facing lefties. Kinda a weird use of Spring Training, especially if there was going to be a close call on Ortega’s roster spot or if you wanted to trade him.

•   Good read here from Jordan Bastian on the Cubs’ catching tandem, and how Yan Gomes put Willson Contreras at ease about all the speculation and rumor’ing that popped up after he signed with the Cubs just before the lockout. Gomes sounds like an exceptionally good teammate already.

•   Just a ridiculously stacked group of position prospect rookies this year in the American League, and this doesn’t even include Riley Greene, who WOULD have been on this list if not for the foot injury (and he still might get in four+ months of big league time):

•   I’m glad this is on a short loop, because it’s taking me multiple viewings to figure out what I just saw:

•   I’ve been waiting for the newer Apple Watches to finally go on sale so I could finally upgrade, and Amazon has them for 17% off, so I’m jumping. The SE version is 11% off, too, if you prefer that one. First time I’ve seen these on a deal. #ad

•   Hard to replace Pat Foley:

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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