Enhanced Box Score: Nationals 4, Cubs 1 – May 2, 2023
The final score wasn’t a “one-run game,” but it sure had that feel. I’d call this another close loss for the Cubs, and a frustrating one at that.
For the second straight outing, Keegan Thompson did not have it (and the issues arguably go back further than that). This time, it wasn’t the walks, it was fat pitches that got smoked. As is often the case with relievers who have ups and downs, I imagine this is all addressable, but I’m not sure the Cubs can afford to have it addressed in meaningful innings at this point. Whether that means Thompson has to head back to Iowa to work out whatever is going on, or whether he becomes the latest reliever to get buried in low-leverage, I don’t know.
Not that Thompson was the only offender tonight, because the Cubs’ bats didn’t do anything of note. Old friend Trevor Williams was not so friendly, owning the Cubs through five innings.
The Cubs only finally threatened in the 6th, when Williams departed and OTHER old friend Carl Edwards Jr. came in. But with the bases loaded and one out, Trey Mancini struck out as a pinch hitter (for Edwin Rios, who is still on the roster but was deemed unworthy of taking the at bat), and Eric Hosmer popped out on the infield. We all screamed Matt Mervis in our heads. Or out loud. Very loud.
The Cubs had a couple more chances from there, but again, failed to come through. That’s four out of the last five games where the Cubs just didn’t get the big hits when they needed them. It’s aggravating, but isn’t always predictive.
As for the starter, Hayden Wesneski got good results despite a lot of hard contact, especially early. The command got better as the night went on – we’ve seen that many times before – but it was one of those starts where a better lineup might’ve given him trouble. Not that you wouldn’t gladly take the results tonight.
He wasn’t getting a ton of whiffs, though, against a pretty bad lineup. The reality is, however nasty the slider is individually, Wesneski is not going to get a ton of whiffs if he doesn’t have his fastball command – everyone will just sit on the slider, because they don’t have to worry about a well-located fastball. It makes the slider so much less effective, and I saw the Nationals hitters easily lay off a really nice breaker off the plate because they were specifically looking slider.
All in all, a solid outing for Wesneski, but probably not as good as the line score looks.