Spring Training Miscellany: Smyly Solid, Fulmer Locked In, Burdi Impressive, Hughes Not Quite There, Bats Quiet
The Cubs dropped today’s game to the Diamondbacks 3-1 as the bats fell silent …
- One really bad pitch cost Drew Smyly a couple runs on a dinger, but I really liked what I was seeing from Smyly today overall. Tons of swing and miss, tons of crummy contact. Not much drama. I just liked the way it looked, which I suspect is in part because Smyly was actually using his whole mix today and pitching toward results. Not surprising to see him flipping that switch with the season just two weeks away.
- The only opening day bullpen guy who I haven’t seen look good yet this spring, for at least one outing, has been Brandon Hughes. Not ideal from your only lefty, and not necessarily indicative of struggles when the regular season begins. But Hughes started behind the others – a slower ramp-up – and he just hasn’t quite looked sharp yet. Everything is up, and very little seems to have much life or bite. We’re really limited in terms of data in the spring, but the eye test just hasn’t quite looked right to me.
- By contrast, Michael Fulmer seems to look better and better every outing. I already semi-predicted it, but let me go full-throated now: Fulmer is going to get the first save opportunity of the year. He’ll get the first run at closer. I’m sure of it.
- Nick Burdi looked to be experimenting with a changeup today, and man, if he can command it at all, and pairs it with his 100 mph fastball and his nassssty slider – I mean, stay healthy guy, and you’ll be back in the big leagues for sure. He struck out two in his perfect 9th inning.
- Cody Bellinger almost sent one out today – well, he kinda did, but Corbin Carroll leaped up and brought it back. So he made sure to hit it in a different direction his next time up and it did leave the yard. Bellinger has actually looked pretty good this spring, results in a small sample notwithstanding. Several very deep drives (today’s homer, two almost homers, and a homer that “didn’t count” against team Canada), lots of hard contact, long ABs, comfortable up there. For what it’s worth. I like what I’ve seen.
- Maybe it’s the freshness of the Edwin Diaz injury and how that makes you think every non-regular-season game is suddenly fraught with season-ending risk, but there was a grounder in this one that had me briefly worried about Nico Hoerner. It was deep into the hole between the first and second baseman, fielded by the first baseman. The pitcher was late getting over, so the first baseman decided to sprint to the base. Had Hoerner gone full out in that moment, like he might have in the regular season, it wasn’t hard to imagine a collision at the base or a head-first slide to avoid a collision. In either case, I briefly flashed on some kind of horrible outcome befalling Hoerner and the C… ah, he let up just a bit. No risk of collision. Whew. Very, very smart from Hoerner.
But What About a Happ Extension, Suzuki Defense, Busy Day, Rucker, Replay Timing, and Other Cubs Bullets
FOLKS! The Cubs Are in “Advanced Discussions” on a Nico Hoerner Extension!!! (UPDATE: It’s Happening!)