Cubs Spring Training: Week 1

Photo: NBC Sports

As Spring Training for the 2023 MLB season rolls on, baseball fans and experts alike are eager to see how their favorite teams and players are shaping up for the year. While it’s important to remember that we’re still in the early stages of Spring Training, it’s hard not to get excited about some of the performances we’ve seen so far.

For the Chicago Cubs, it’s been a mixed bag in terms of offensive production. Some players are off to a hot start, while others struggle to find their groove. Dansby Swanson collected only one hit in the collective no-hitter Friday night, while Nico Hoerner is batting just .200. Yan Gomes is doing slightly better with a .200 average, but it’s still early days.

Ian Happ is off to a strong start with a .500 batting average and four RBIs, but Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini, and David Bote are really turning heads. Bellinger with a .429 average, Mancini batting .500, while David Bote has been red-hot, hitting .636, four RBIs, and slugging 1.182. Patrick Wisdom has only had two at-bats but made the most of it with a perfect 1.000 average and a walk. Nick Madrigal was also a nice surprise with a .333 average and three RBIs.

Some players have struggled more than others in the early going. Christopher Morel is batting just .154, while Edwin Rios collected his first hit, a solo shot, in the 4th inning Friday night. Tucker Barnhart is also still looking for his first hit of the Spring.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the Spring so far has been the performances of Mike Tauchman. Tauchman is hitting an impressive .556 with five hits (one double), an RBI, and two stolen bases.

The Cubs’ pitching has been full of questions, but Friday night, the staff collaborated for a no-hitter against the Padres. Starter, Justin Steele, gave the Cubs the first two innings of no-hit baseball. This was also Steele’s first appearance this Spring Training.

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The competition for the fifth spot in the starting rotation for the Chicago Cubs is heating up. These early performances are important for players looking to earn their spot on the team.

Two pitchers who have stood out in the early going are Hayden Wesneski and Javier Assad. Wesneski has been particularly impressive, pitching two scoreless innings with four strikeouts and only one walk. Assad has also been strong, striking out two batters without giving up a run in his four innings of work, and was also a part of the no-hitter Friday night.

However, not all of the new additions to the Cubs’ pitching staff have had smooth sailing. Jameson Taillon struggled in his 1 2/3 innings pitched, allowing three earned runs for an ERA of 10.80, along with Drew Smyly’s 9.00 era through two innings. But Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger have looked sharp, with Fulmer throwing two clean innings with two walks and a strikeout. Boxberger worked through two innings with one hit and two strikeouts. Another standout has been Caleb Killian, who is also in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation. Killian has pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

Of course, it’s not just about the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. The Cubs’ ace, Marcus Stroman, has also been putting in work during Spring Training. In his 4.1 innings pitched, Stroman has an ERA of 2.08 with five strikeouts and zero walks.

While Spring Training stats should be taken with a grain of salt, these performances certainly encourage the Cubs’ pitching staff. The competition for the fifth spot in the rotation will continue to heat up as Spring Training progresses, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. But with strong performances from Wesneski, Assad, Fulmer, Boxberger, and others, the Cubs’ pitching staff is looking solid heading into the 2023 season.

It’s important to remember that Spring Training is just a warm-up for the regular season, and the small sample sizes we’re seeing now shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But at the same time, it’s always exciting to see players get off to a strong start and show off their skills on the field.

As the Cubs and the rest of the league continue to ramp up for the 2023 season, we’ll be keeping a close eye on how these early performances translate into regular-season success. Will the hot hitters stay hot, or will some of the struggling players turn things around? Only time will tell, but for now, baseball fans can enjoy the excitement of Spring Training and look forward to what’s to come.

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