Three takeaways from Cubs tie with White Sox


by - Staff Writer -
Mills had a rare no-hitter last season (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)
Mills had a rare no-hitter last season (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)

If the Cubs were playing hockey, they would be racking up the points as they picked up their second straight tie to move to 7-5-3 this spring. However, spring training or not, this is baseball, and when you tie the White Sox, that tie is more like kissing your sister.

In their first of two spring meetings this season, the northsiders played from behind most of the game as they tied the South Siders 4-4. This spring, making his third start was Alec Mills, who appears to be the front runner for the final rotation spot. Mills was sharp in his first two outings this season, but today was not the case. In three innings, Mills allowed three runs on six hits in three innings of work. He also surrendered three walks to go with just one strikeout as the command was not in his favor.

All three of the runs' Mills allowed came off the bat of former Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez. Acquired in 2017 in the Jose Quintana deal, Jimenez notched a two-RBI single in the first before adding another RBI single in the third to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead. Also acquired in that same deal was Dylan Cease, who was impressive in his three innings of work allowing just one hit to go with two punchouts.

First in relief for the Cubs was Shelby Miller, as he is also in the running for the final rotation spot. Following his two innings of no run one-hit ball, Miller struck out three and lowered his ERA to 1.29. Not only is he looking to land a spot on the roster, but he is also looking to make the team as a starter. The Cubs finally got on the board in the fourth inning when offseason pickup Jacob Marisnick picked up an RBI single to plate Joc Pederson. David Bote added an RBI double later that inning, closing the gap to 3-2.

Making their first appearances this spring was Brad Wieck and Ryan Tepera. While Wieck was strong, Tepera showed signs of rust, yielding an RBI single to Jose Abreu as one of three hits allowed that gave the White Sox the lead again 4-3. Earlier that inning, Alfonso Rivas tied things up at three, taking one the opposite way for a single. That single came off Garrett Crochet, which isn't easy to do.

A scoreless eighth from both Justin Steele and Michael Kopech gave way to Liam Hendricks in the ninth as he was looking to close the door. With one down, Patrick Wisdom got ahold of a Hendricks pitch and put it over the left-field fence for the solo shot tying things up 4-4.

That was the final run in the contest, with Jake Jewell working around a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the tie.

Shelby Miller continues to impress

While most people were not too thrilled with the Miller signing, I thought it was a good move. The Cubs were in on Miller last season and eventually lost out on his services. This season the Cubs not only wanted to make Miller an offer he couldn't refuse but gave him an invite to make this team out of spring.

So far, that appears to be an investment well spent as Miller looks sharp. Not only that, but Miller has also pitched both as a starter and in relief, showing the Cubs he is healthy once again. Should the injury issues finally be behind him, Miller will be a massive help to this team. He figures to be a part of this team at some point this season but so far, so good this spring.

Welcome back, relievers Brad Wieck and Ryan Tepera

It was nice to see some familiar faces on the mound as both Wieck and Tepera made their spring debuts. Tepera was a focal point for the Cubs last season, earning an MVP vote at the end of the season. He then went on to sign a minor league deal in late February and will hopefully get an opportunity to make a difference once again.

On the other hand, Wieck is coming off a season where he didn't pitch a single inning. After showing tons of potential when the Cubs acquired him in 2019, he missed all of 2020 after having a heart procedure. Finally, healthy, Wieck to the mound for the first time this spring and picked off right where he left off. With Andrew Chafin as the lone lefty lock in the pen, adding Wieck or Kyle Ryan will be a much-needed weapon.

Ian Happ is cooling off

After taking the leadoff role by storm last season, David Ross named him the leadoff hitter to start the season. After getting off to a strong start this spring, Happ has considerably cooled off and is now hitting .217 this spring. Cubs fans shouldn't get overly alarmed just yet because he has been hitting the ball hard just right at fielders and this of course is spring training.

Unlike years past, the Cubs will have some reliable options to use in the leadoff spot. Yes, Happ will most likely be there when in the lineup, but should he need a break or miss time, Chicago has options. Nico Hoerner, Ilderamo Vargas, Anthony Rizzo, and even Jason Heyward could all be short-term options. Maybe getting that day off tomorrow is precisely what Happ needs to reset and finish the spring strong.

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