Needing Wesneski, Smyly's Tough Start, Vosler is Cruel, Thompson's Role, Heyward Goes Deep, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Needing Wesneski, Smyly’s Tough Start, Vosler is Cruel, Thompson’s Role, Heyward Goes Deep, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • Ah. The first week of the season and already worried about losing streaks. Nothing like needing your rookie starting pitcher to be the Stopper, but hey, good luck tonight, Hayden Wesneski. Cubs need it.
  • … fortunately, Wesneski, despite being a rookie, doesn’t feel like the type to be overwhelmed by any sense of external pressure. Instead, it seems more like he feeds off of it. That doesn’t mean he’s going to dominate tonight – stuff happens – but I think he’s going to be very ready. I like the Cubs’ chances to win tonight if they score five or six runs again. Please and thanks.
  • Speaking of which, I wonder how often over the last few years the Cubs have scored 11 runs over two games and lost them both. It apparently happened just four times all of last season (once at Coors Field), and last year’s team was not supposed to be as good as this year’s team. Thus, this year’s team REALLY NEEDS to not do that if they want to stay in the race come July.
  • The runs for last night’s loss were all charged to Drew Smyly, who was a pitch away from getting through five innings having allowed four runs (a poor outing, but a livable one in Cincinnati). David Ross has been getting a lot of grief for leaving Smyly in for that inning, but I think that’s misplaced (as we discussed last night, there was plenty else that Ross did to leave you scratching your head). Smyly was not sharp yesterday, but he also wasn’t gassed at that point (stuff and velo were holding up the same as they was earlier in the game), and it was a lefty-on-lefty hitter with slightly worse splits against lefties (after Smyly had been asked to get through the bottom of the order, and after Smyly had already struck out Vosler earlier in the game).
  • So, I don’t really have a huge issue with Smyly being tasked with getting through that inning. I have an issue with his leadoff walk and where it took things in the first inning more than anything. I’m not even THAT upset by Smyly’s outing, which mostly featured weak contact and a lot of swing-and-misses. There was a lot else to be annoyed about in that game (for example, the confirmation from Ross that he left Wisdom in to try for a sac bunt, even though the wrist was hurting him … but also even though Wisdom could clearly still swing it, since he singled later in the game! … you know what, more on that soon).
  • Here’s Smyly, via the Tribune: “It was a frustrating outing. It’s not the one you want to start the year. … I mean, our offense scored a lot of runs, plenty to win a game. I let us down tonight …. It’s definitely frustrating because I feel like I’m executing my pitches. I could’ve mixed and matched much better. I kind of got away from my game plan. But at the same time, they didn’t really hit a fastball hard until the the last batter.” Kinda one of those things where it was definitely not a good performance, especially given the runs the Cubs scored and how the Reds immediately scored right back, but I’m not sure Smyly was “seven runs in 4.2 innings” bad.
  • As an interesting aside, on the Vosler homer, it actually looks like Smyly executed the pitch almost perfectly where it was called:
  • Vosler, who came into the game because of an injury, also made a nice catch to end the game when Miles Mastrobuoni nearly sent what would’ve been a two-run double up the first base line. Vosler is a former Cubs prospect and he is doing them wrong. How dare he. (Vosler was originally traded by the Cubs to the Padres for Rowan Wick, who is himself now at Triple-A.)
  • Smyly was followed by Keegan Thompson, who’d been described by the Cubs as transitioning to more of a shorter outing role (so that he can recover more quickly and pitch more frequently) … and who threw 3.1 innings and 32 pitches. He was absolutely outstanding in that appearance, as he so frequently is in his multi-inning outings, but it was interesting to see Ross and the Cubs go that route. Thompson now figures to be unavailable for the next few days, but I mean, if he could actually do short or long-term outings this year and recover REASONABLY well, he’ll be so incredibly valuable.
  • Good for Jason Heyward. I refuse to feel any other feelings about this:
  • The Cardinals’ offense won’t be hurting too much for it because they’re loaded, but outfielder Lars Nootbaar is headed to the IL with a thumb contusion.
  • If you are into golf, or just into winning contests, make sure you sign up for Betsperts’ Masters pool:
  • Meant to mention this yesterday – the performance is great, as is the story, but it’s also very telling/impressive that Nick Burdi was given the 9th in a one-run game given how loaded that Iowa bullpen is:
  • The latest episode of the podcast I do with Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney (subscribe if you’re wanting to get every episode wherever you listen to your podcasts):
  • The slider is great, but then you see the curveball. My god:

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.