The quest for 162-0 is alive and well after the Cubs kicked the season off with an absolute ass-kicking of a god-awful Texas Rangers team.
Early on it looked as if the batting woes that plagued the Cubs in the second half of 2018 hadn’t been fixed. Guys weren’t working counts. You had a rookie SWINGING AT A 3-0 PITCH (seriously, wtf Zagunis… do you want to get sent down? Because that’s how you get sent down). Mike Minor was looking like an ace… until El Mago mashed a low, low, LOW curveball over the left field wall. That opened the floodgates.
Suddenly, a new group of hitters seemingly arrived. Walks were being drawn, counts were going deep, and runs were being produced by someone not named Javier Baez (although he did have four).
Combine 12 runs with a six-inning two run performance from John Lester, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for victory.
What Did We Learn?
This team is capable of taking good at bats. You might think otherwise if you paid attention to the end of last year, but the boys were seeing pitches well, and drew eight walks. Walks are just as good as hits, my friends. Sure, chicks dig the long-ball, but you can’t win games if you don’t get on. Getting on base is the most valuable thing you can do for your team. Hopefully the Cubs take that approach into the next game.
John Lester has lost a lot of zip on his fastball. I don’t know if I saw him hit 91 more than twice all game. While it may be a cause for concern, we already have a guy in the rotation who has proven you don’t need to throw hard to dominate. Will Lester be able to transition from a hard-throwing lefty to a more tactical, accurate pitcher? Time will tell, but he’s always had good control, and he’s just a competitor. He could be throwing 75, and he’d still find a way to get batters out. At least, I hope…
Javy Baez is the most exciting player in baseball. I know, this isn’t a hot-take. Everyone who follows the sport knows how good this guy is, but man… he mashed two bombs in the opener. Statistically, he’s on pace to hit 324 home runs this year. And he only struck out once. Since Dexter Fowler left the team has been trying to find its “when he goes, we go” guy, and with Javy they have that. He does everything at an elite level. All he needs to do is not swing at low and away breaking balls, and he might become baseball’s most dangerous hitter.
There are a lot of positives to take away from the game yesterday, but that’s what happens when you play against a team that might end up being the worst in the league when its all said and done. That’s what good teams do. They beat the tar out of inferior competition while not taking them lightly. Hopefully this continues throughout the series, because as far as pitching goes for the Rangers, it only gets worse from here.
Fly the W.