Cubs News and Notes: Cubs fall to Dodgers, Pitching breakdown, Rotation questions, more
Ross has been out with the flu (Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports)

Cubs News and Notes: Cubs fall to Dodgers, Pitching breakdown, Rotation questions, more

by - Columnist -

Next Game: Today; 2:10 PM Central: Cubs @ Mariners from Peoria Stadium.

Opening Day: 31 days - Thursday, March 26, 2020: Cubs vs. Brewers (Miller Park).

Sunday's Game Recap: Unfortunately, the Cubs didn't enjoy another W on Sunday (vs. Dodgers), falling to the Dodgers by a final of 4-2. The preseason is still in its infancy stage, but yesterday's game should have leant a lot of clarity to David Ross, who was probably watching from home. Rossy was still out with the flu yesterday, but I'm quite certain that some of the pitching performances didn't help his illness – more on that later.

For the Cubs, getting the offense in motion proved to be a challenge, with the team going 6 for 32 (.188). The offensive campaign was highlighted by Victor Caratini's left-handed blast to right in the top of the fourth. Caratini just missed a home run to left field (from the right side) during his first at-bat.

The Cubs would scrounge up another run in the eighth, courtesy of a two-out rally, beginning with Robel Garcia's knock to right-center. Jared young and Ian Miller would also single, eventually scoring Garcia.

Contrary to Saturday's effort, which saw eight of nine pitchers throw scoreless innings for the Cubs, Sunday was riddled with pitfalls and control problems. Collectively, the team gave up six hits but allowed five men to reach on walks. Wild pitches also played a part in the Dodgers win.

First, let's acknowledge those with clean innings. Tyler Chatwood opened up the game by throwing three-straight outside pitches but settled in nicely. He'd end up pitching himself out of jam created by Corban Joseph, the Cubs' first baseman.

Chatwood gave up a one-out single, but on the ensuing play, Joseph missed a soft line drive, mishandled the ball, and tripped over Corey Seager, drawing an interference call. Chatwood remained calm, getting a groundball to end the inning on a 6-4-3 double play.

Chatty also added, "I think there's still a lot of untapped potential. Right now, it's the best I've ever been. I'm able to set up pitches, I'm able to see stuff, have confidence if I miss, and come back with a breaking ball."

Colin Rea became the only pitcher so far to work more than one inning, as he covered the second and third frames. He did allow one hit but walked no one through a pair of scoreless innings.

Now, for the guys who struggled some…

In the fourth, Trevor Megill walked Justin Turner, then single-handedly allowed him to score as the result of a drop-third strike and two wild pitches. Megill also walked one and collected a single strikeout but allowed a run without ever giving up a hit.

Before the game, Cubs' pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, on Rule 5'er Trevor Megill: "He understands who he is. That's one significant thing with a lot of Minor League guys, is understanding how they fit into the Major League level. And he has a really good idea of what makes him successful."

Well, it didn't seem to show yesterday.

In the fifth, ben Taylor would give up the go-ahead run, as the result of two hits and a walk. Wyatt Short would walk one in the sixth but held Los Angeles scoreless.

In the sixth, righty Caleb Simpson wouldn't even last the inning. Despite fanning a pair, Simpson managed to walk two and give up two hits, allowing the Dodgers to plate another two runs. He was replaced by righty, Scott Effross, who allowed a hit, but got out of the inning with no further damage.

In the eighth, Oscar De La Cruz would walk a man and give up a hit, but he was able to keep the damage from getting worse.

For some of these guys – and Tyler Olson, who faltered on Saturday – it might not take more than another bad outing, or maybe two before Ross sends them packing. The Cubs had a lot of vacancies in the bullpen this winter, and Ross and Hottovy are going to have to start homing in on who they want to keep. Maddon seemed to wait forever to start cutting last year, but I don't think Rossy and Hottovy have the luxury of doing so.

Pitch perfect: Today's game is scheduled to feature Adbert Alzolay as the starter, as David Ross continues to comb through his options for his #5 man. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks are slated to make their initial spring starts on Tuesday and Wednesday, while Jose Quintana now also out with the flu.

Cubs' Birthdays: Celebrating yesterday, were ex-Cubs Rondell White (48), Jim Bolger (88), and posthumously, Lew Camp (152).

MLB News and Notes:

Astros: I wrote yesterday that I was surprised by the lack of boos at the Astros' spring home opener. Surely there were Nationals' fans in the crowd, and there had to be some disgruntled Houston fans, yet I saw no signs of protest (the operative word there being "signs").

This morning I stumbled upon a tweet, showing Astros' security walking around and taking signs away from people who were protesting. I get it if there was anything vulgar, threatening or racial, those should absolutely be confiscated. On the other hand, holding up a sign acknowledging that you're furious with the team – and/or Manfred for his poor handling of the situation – seems not only allowable but justifiable as well.

The people in Houston need to put on their big-girl panties, as this is bound to be the case all season.

Red Sox: Boston has claimed RHP Phillips Valdez off waivers from Seattle and have placed 2B Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day IL.

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