We are officially one week away from opening night in St. Louis and the final tweaks to the roster are being made. Manager Joe Maddon has put together his pitching rotation to start the season and has more or less solidified Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot.
Official Cubs starting rotation:
1.) Jon Lester
2.) Jake Arrieta
3.) John Lackey
4.) Brett Anderson
5.) Kyle Hendricks
Mike Montgomery will start the year in the pen and Maddon wanted to mix up the rotation for match up reasons. This explains Cy Young contender Kyle Hendricks being #5. In the end they all pretty much start the same amount of games and the order really doesn’t matter after the first week. Montgomery will make starts down the road, whether in for injury or a six-man rotation but it will happen eventually.
Speaking of Schwarber, he 23-year old slugger spent a few innings catching the other day. While he likely won’t be doing much of it in the regular season, this gave Maddon and Co. a look at what he is able to do behind the plate currently. He currently sports a .347 OBP and .915 OPS in spring training so far.
While many minor leaguers have been sent down, Ian Happ is still raking with the club. As of Sunday morning, he has a .417/.437/1.285 slash in 24 spring games. Many people are saying he is major league ready, and while that may be, there is one major problem…there is no room for him on the roster. All positions are set on the infield with super-stud defender Javier Baez playing behind Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant so Happ just has no current place. Whether he will stay in the organization or be part of a trade remains to be seen. Also, Jeimer Candelario and Eloy Jimenez are back in the minors.
After dazzling the world in the WBC with his defense, Javier Baez is back with the Cubs and ready to start the season. He ways he won’t change anything to his game and continue his ways…no Cubs fan is complaining about that.
Jason Heyward continues to work on and get used to his new swing. Despite starting off the season very slow, he seems to be starting to find his groove a little more recently. He his a big two-run homer yesterday and has had some good at-bats.
“Timing is the thing now, and I want to perfect that and be consistently on time so the swing can work. The swing has been great.” – Jason Heyward to Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales
Another note is it has been reported the Cubs are interested in dealing OF Matt Szczur. A skilled bench player, the Cubs may not have any room for him. Szczur is out of options and would have to clear waivers to return to the minors. We will see what happens when the final roster is put together.
Just one more week…Lester vs. Martinez on Sunday night in St. Louis. The defense of the trophy will officially begin.