PIT 0 – CHC 10
Pristine weather in April; the Cubs score double-digit runs. It’s Chicago’s largest shutout victory in a home opener in franchise history. And the Brewers lost in Anaheim. How’s that for a Monday.
The Cubs can’t afford to lose Jon Lester. He’s been the lone reliable starter. His strained left hammy doesn’t appear to be serious. But if Lester can’t make his next scheduled start on Sunday, it’s likely Tyler Chatwood gets the spot-start against the Angels. I’ll set Chatwood’s over/under for walks at 5.
The Cubs bullpen went four scoreless on Sunday in Milwaukee and seven scoreless Monday against Pittsburgh. It’s a step in the right direction. Hat tip to Brad Brach for his two scoreless innings after replacing Lester in the third.
Jameson Taillon isn’t an established name, but he’s climbing the ranks of baseball’s best starters. The Cubs used death by a thousand cuts to score 6 runs (all unearned) and chase Taillon after two innings on Monday. When this Cubs lineup is clicking they can punish even the best pitching.
The Pirates finished last season (82-79), which has significance when you consider it’s only Pittsburgh’s fourth winning record in the past 26 years. The Bucs have a fighting chance for another winning season this year because of their formidable starting rotation—Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, and Joe Musgrove (acquired from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade)—and a reliable back of the bullpen: setup man Keone Kela and closer Felipe Vazquez. The problem is the Pirates have a dismal offense, which was on full display Monday.
A rough day for Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman whose three errors in the second inning opened the flood gates on Taillon. Newman was the Pirates first-round draft pick in 2015 and is viewed as the long-term answer at shortstop. He debuted last August (coincidentally vs. the Cubs on Aug. 16 at PNC Park) and was mostly overmatched in 97 plate appearances (.209). This season Newman’s 3-for-11 with 2 RBI.
Wednesday – Rizzo will be presented with his 2018 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Thursday – Báez will be presented with his 2018 Silver Slugger Award.
ROTATION vs. PIT
Wed. – Darvish
Thur. – Quintana