Three takeaways from Cubs win over D-backs
|Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 9:09 AM- -|
The Cubs entered Monday's spring finale with the Diamondbacks hoping to put on a show for the home fans. With Zach Davies toeing the mound one final time before getting the ball on Sunday against the Pirates, the Cubs put on a show for the home crowd dominating Arizona 7-1. The win gave the Cubs a 15-9-4 mark for the spring as they finished second overall only to Kansas City.
Of all the starters who pitched this spring, both Trevor Williams, Shelby Miller, and Davies have been the most impressive, but Davies pitched the best. Following his one run allowed on just two hits in 3 1/3 innings of work, Davies not only finishes the spring strong but finishes with a team-low 1.08 ERA and will head into the season with a ton of momentum.
It took the Cubs just one inning to not only plate the first run of the game but grab a lead that they refused to let go of. Once again, that hit came off the bat of Joc Pederson as he laced an RBI double into the corner to make things 2-0. Pederson advanced to third on the throw but would be stranded there. The Cubs continued their early offensive assault on Diamondbacks pitching when Willson Contreras launched a solo home run in the top of the third to extend the lead to 3-0.
The lone run of the game for Arizona came in the top of the fourth inning when Christian Walker got into a Davies pitch to hit a solo home run of his own. The Cubs then turned to Dan Winkler, who finished things off in the fourth. Looking to put the game away in the bottom of the fourth, Jason Heyward extended the Cubs lead back to three as his RBI single made things 4-1. That set the stage for Nico Hoerner, who delivered the biggest hit of the night with a three-run shot giving the Cubs a 7-1 lead through four.
Nico lifts, 100%. pic.twitter.com/c0CLUnKQIf— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) March 29, 2021
The rest of the game was all about holding onto the lead as the Cubs turned to Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin, Brandon Workman, Rex Brothers, Pedro Strop, and Ryan Meisinger as they held the Diamondbacks scoreless allowing five hits to go along with one walk and seven punchouts. Offensively, the Cubs starters were done for the day as David Ross brought in several minor leaguers to get in some last-minute playing time before they break for minor league camp.
Chase Strumpf, Brennen Davis, and Christopher Morel were some of the names who entered the game as they each picked up one hit in the Cubs 7-1 win to cap offspring with a nice win. The team will now head to the Windy City, opening the season against Pittsburgh on Thursday before welcoming in Milwaukee next week.
"If they are passing out a trophy, I want it."
That was the famous phrase that David Ross mentioned when giving his introductory press conference last year. Whether they play two games or 162 games, Ross wants his team to play for that trophy if the MLB is handing out a trophy.
Although there is no trophy associated with Spring training, the Cubs certainly played as if they were playing for something more than reps. Their 15-9-4 record was not only good enough for second place, only trailing the Royals, but it is the most wins they have had in a spring season since 2016. We all know how that season ended.
For the first time in forever, the Cubs treated spring training more than just 28 practice games, solely focusing on getting you ready for the season. With so many jobs up for grabs this season, the competition was at an all-time high. It seems like the competition brought out the best in a lot of these players.
One more W for the road.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 29, 2021
See you at home! pic.twitter.com/IGN1Cmy73z
How will the minor leaguers respond?
As spring training rolled on, the Cubs saw more and more players cut from big league camp as they were optioned to the minors. That didn't prevent them from still seeing action in several games. Guys like Miguel Amaya, Morel, Davis, and Strumpf not only saw action but saw action in nearly half of the spring training games.
Several minor league pitchers, including Miller, followed suit as they continued to perform all spring long. With the Minor league season officially getting underway on May 4th, these players will get to spend an extra month in Arizona to get ready for their regular season. It is unclear how minor league camp will work in terms of games and overall work, but there is always the South Bend alternate site for some players to go should the Cubs need guys to be ready.
Thursday it starts for real
It is time to throw spring training out the window as things start for real on Thursday. There were several great stories throughout the spring, as well as some disappointments in terms of production. When the Cubs step on the field to take on the Pirates on Thursday, none of what they did the past month matters anymore as a whole new season will be underway.
While most of the struggling players will bounce back, you still must wonder about the likes of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, who simply couldn't get it done all spring. Then you look at the pitching surprises mostly surrounding Williams and Davies, and fans wonder if that can keep up. Obviously, they won't post sub 2.00 ERA's, but should they continue to pitch the way they did in spring, this team will be better than advertised and surprise many people.