By: Alex Patt
The Cubs continue some very inconsistent play this week but it was a big week regardless. Not only was there some big stuff on the field, there was also the MLB draft which Theo Epstein had two first-round picks to start off.
The Cubs spent the whole week on the road in Queens and Pittsburgh with two, two game sets and an off day. The struggling and banged up Mets brought Yoenis Cespedes back to play and took 2/3 from the Cubs. The one win the Cubs got was a 14-3 blowout with five home runs (Rizzo, Bryant, Happ, Baez and Heyward) and Lester gave up only one run in seven innings. The bats got shutdown in game one as John Lackey struggled in a 6-1 loss and in the finale blew an early 4-1 lead to lose 9-4.
For the first time since April 25th the Cubs won a road series vs. the Pirates over the weekend. In game one they trailed 4-3 in the 9th (after blowing a 3-0 lead) and scored six times and the game ended in a 9-5 victory. Arrieta hit a home run in game two but the Pirates won 4-3 after some frustrating misplays and some bad offensive luck. In the rubber game, John Lackey pitched 6 innings of one-run ball and the bats swung away to a 7-1 win and conclude their roadtrip at 3-3 and a 34-34 overall record.
Probably the biggest on-field topic over this trip was Anthony Rizzo. To the surprise of many, Rizzo was slated in the leadoff spot in game two of the Mets series as Maddon was trying to jumble the lineup. He stayed in the leadoff spot from then until now and put up the following results to start the game: home run, home run, walk, single, double. A 1.000 OBP and very impressive results. Rizzo even seems to enjoy playing leadoff as he exclaimed it in the dugout after he hit a leadoff homer against the Mets. He batted .417 overall on the trip with three homers and eight RBIs.
The Cubs had two first-round picks (27, 30) and set the tone for what their desire was to take…pitching. Their first pick was LHP Brendon Little out of Sarasota and then Alex Lange from LSU. With the little pitching there is in the system, it was really no surprise that Theo went arm heavy in this year’s draft. Seven of the first ten Cubs picks were pitchers and they did not take a position player their fifth pick (165th overall). Their top three drafts were also college pitchers so they are a bit more mature than the HS players in the draft.
Brendon Little so far this year is 5-3 with a 2.53 ERA and averages 14.03 strikeouts a game. He has a very explosive fastball that can peak at 97 and has a solid breaking ball. His main problem is that he can get a little wild with some other pitches but if he can be taught control, he is a good asset to have.
Alex Lange so far this year has thrown 11 innings and has 18 strikeouts and only two walks and only one run given up. He has a fastball that currently is in the low to mid-90s and some breaking ball stuff that scouts seem to like.
It is refreashing to see some young arms in the system considering what the pitching situation was in the farm before the draft. Very smart drafting by Epstein and the scouting department.
The Cubs will head back to Wrigley for a three game series with the Padres starting Monday.