Season Over: Cubs blanked by Brewers
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

Season Over: Cubs blanked by Brewers


by - Senior Writer -

MILWAUKEE - Whatever happens from this moment forward will determine a lot of what the future of the Chicago Cubs (83-79) will look like. After blowing a great chance to make the postseason this season, the Cubs can at least take away the fact that they finished with a winning record and did much better than what many expected them to do. Now, it is time to fine-tune the rest of this roster and make the necessary changes needed to improve long-term.

One team that continues to impress no matter who is on that roster is the NL Central Division Champs, the Milwaukee Brewers (92-70), as they have won their fifth title in six years. Looking to end the season with a series win and enter the offseason on a positive note, the Cubs chose to go with more of a spring training approach to close out their season at American Family Insurance Field. Knowing that, and knowing that Adrian Houser was taking the ball for the Brewers, the Cub's 2023 season concluded with a 4-0 loss as they will now head into a very crucial offseason.

Initially slated to be Justin Steele to close out the finale, with the Cubs officially eliminated from playoff contention, David Ross went with Drew Smyly in a meaningless game regarding the standings. Smyly has pitched much better since moving to the pen, but his starts have been an issue and continued yet again as he lasted just 1/3 of an inning and surrendered three of the Brewers four runs to take the loss.

The Cubs had a golden opportunity to get to Houser early in the game, with Christopher Morel and Jeimer Candelario picking up singles to get things rolling while a two-out walk to Mike Tauchman loaded the bases. Unfortunately, the Cubs came up empty, as that was the only jam Houser found himself in, and he ended up giving the Brewers five shutout innings with five strikeouts.

After escaping that jam in the first, all the momentum shifted towards Milwaukee, and with Christian Yelich leading things off with a walk followed by a William Contreras single, the Brewers had two runners on and were threatening. Two batters later, Mark Canha came through with an RBI single as that was the winning run with Brewers leading 1-0. His single was followed by a pair of walks, including a bases-loaded walk to Josh Donaldson to double the Brewers lead.

That was the final hitter Smyly would face as Luke Little replaced him and gave up the Garrett Mitchell sacrifice fly to make things 3-0 before ending the frame without further damage. When it comes to Little, he has an opportunity to be a real force next season as he struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and will finish his rookie season with a 0.00 ERA. He was followed by Daniel Palencia, who struck out four in his relief outing, but with Houser setting down nine consecutive hitters after that first inning, that 3-0 lead was starting to look like a 10-0 advantage.

It wasn't until the Patrick Wisdom single in the fourth that ended that run, but once again, the Cubs came away empty. With the Cubs still searching for their first run of the game, Tauchman used a two-out double to land in a scoring position only to be left stranded on the bases. As tough as it has been to see some of the Cubs relievers this season, Little and Palencia ended their season on a high, with Tyler Duffey also making his season debut on Sunday.

Duffey retired the first five hitters he faced, but after the Tyrone Taylor homer, it was a 4-0 lead for Milwaukee. Duffey would get through the sixth without any more damage, as that was the game's final run for either side. Looking to potentially bury the Cubs, the Brewers had something going against Shane Greene in the seventh as the one-out Victor Caratini double had another runner on base while two additional walks loaded the bases. Greene managed to escape the jam with an inning-ending double play, but unless the offense got something going, it wouldn't matter.

Morel added a single in the top of the eighth in hopes of jumpstarting the Cubs offense, but that was the last baserunner for the Cubs as an up-and-down ride of a 2023 season has ended. The Cubs were held to five hits in the loss, with Morel leading the way with two.

Candelario, Tauchman, and Wisdom had the rest of the hits, and now it will be up to the front office to decide who stays and who goes on this team heading into next season.

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