Three takeaways from Cubs blowout win over Dodgers
|Friday, March 5, 2021, 8:44 AM- -|
The Cubs continue to play great baseball to start spring as they improved to 3-0-1 last night. In a matchup against the defending World Series champion Dodgers, most of the team's regulars were out on both sides but still had some stars in the lineup.
On the mound for the Cubs was Trevor Williams, who is competing for a back end of the rotation job. Despite allowing four hits in two innings of work, Williams struck out four, including the side in the second, as he didn't allow a run. The offense took care of the rest as the Cubs starters have yet to yield a run this spring, topping Los Angeles 7-0.
Nico Hoerner continued his hot start to the spring with a one-out single in the first.
Nico making it happen in the 1st! pic.twitter.com/GvBqx3RVH5— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) March 5, 2021
He later came around to score on a throwing error by catcher Austin Barnes to give the Cubs a quick 1-0 lead. In the third inning, the Cubs bats came to life, pushing across five runs to bust the game wide open.
After homering for the first time on Wednesday, Michael Hermosillo was back in the lineup again and went deep for the second consecutive day to extend the lead to 2-0. An Ian Happ walk and Hoerner double had runners on second and third, with Ilderamo Vargas stepping in. Competing for the second base job himself, Vargas ripped one into the right-field corner as the Cubs lead doubled from 2-0 to 4-0. A few batters later, Austin Romine was getting in on the fun, taking one out to the left-center field, extending the Cubs lead to 6-0.
With Rex Brothers the first of five bullpen arms for the Cubs taking care of things in the third, Happ capped off the scoring in the fourth inning by launching a long solo shot towards the batter's eye in dead center, extending the lead to 7-0.
Sweet dreams. pic.twitter.com/D5imkPV9ft— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 5, 2021
The rest of the game was all about getting guys in the game as several players saw significant time.
Guys like Cory Abbott and Jerry Vasto threw their first innings of relief this spring and, although shaky at times, managed to get through without any damage. Joe Biagini struggled with his command but didn't allow a run, while Trevor McGill was impressive in the night inning. Chicago also continues to get some of their top prospects in the game like Brennan Davis, as they want to give these guys as many bats as possible given the delayed minor league season start.
The Cubs will return home on Friday for an afternoon contest with Cleveland. The game can be seen on Marquee Network.
The new spring rules aren't right
I understand the reasoning for playing seven innings in spring, especially early on. These games don't make sense, and why risk getting someone injured. What I don't understand is the new mercy rule that isn't even a mercy rule.
Coaches now have the option to pull a starting pitcher if they surpass 20 pitches in an inning despite the inning-ending. In the third and fourth inning, the Cubs had golden opportunities to score more runs only to have Roberts call the inning with two outs. I get that it is spring training, and none of this counts, but for a team that has struggled to hit with runners in scoring position, any early-season work in those situations would help.
The new-look top of the order could be potent
David Ross has already announced that Happ will lead off this season. Given the way he performed in that role in 2020, it makes sense, but the rest of the lineup will be a puzzle. Typically, guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and others have hit in the No. 2 spot but judging by what fans have seen this spring, someone else should take over that role.
I am talking about Hoerner, who may have cemented himself on the opening day roster with AAA being pushed back a month. Coming into camp, Hoerner was one of three men competing for the second base job, but at this point, it appears to be his job to lose. Not only that, but he is hitting the ball harder and better than anyone at camp, and that is coming from the No. 2 spot.
This spot in the lineup is perfect for someone who makes a ton of contact and does all the little things right. That is precisely what Hoerner brings to the table, and I think he would be perfect behind Happ. Should Happ get on, Hoerner could then move him over or put two runners on base with no outs leaving the dirty work to the big boppers. His presence could turn this lineup entirely around and have the Cubs scoring not only more runs but doing it more consistently.
Cubs are playing with energy
Last season, the Cubs seemed to be sleepwalking through the season as they never could generate energy without fans. Now that fans are back and projected to be back for opening day, you can see a different team thus far in terms of energy.
They are excited to be back on the diamond, having fun once again (I know this is only spring training), and they seem to appreciate the game again prior to seasons past. Having a new sense of energy could go a long way as having fun plays a huge role in the team's overall success.