The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen pitched well in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers as the offense continues to sputter.
The Chicago Cubs bullpen threw 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just one hit while striking out six.
Mike Montgomery led the way by throwing 46 pitches before giving up the walk-off run in the 11th on a wild pitch. This one certainly hurts the confidence of a bullpen that was beginning to find rhythm. However, the Cubs’ offense is of greater concern.
No support for the newbie
Chicago sent Brett Anderson to the mound to make his first start with the team. He went 5 2/3 innings, giving up just one run on five hits with four strikeouts. The only run came in the sixth inning after a two-out single by Travis Shaw, a wild pitch, and a single by Jesus Aguilar.
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The new Cubs lefty was visibly frustrated coming off the mound after not recording the final out of the sixth, but his offense didn’t give him much support.
When Anderson pitches in one-run games, his numbers are horrific. Opponents are slashing .659/1.059/1.069 with two home runs, 11 hits and eight runs scored.
Anderson was at 71 pitches to begin the sixth, however. When he throws 50+pitches in an outing, he’s held opponents to a .167 batting average, though they’ve tagged him for a .942 OPS.
Manager Joe Maddon had Justin Grimm warming up in the previous inning, but left Anderson in after Chicago’s offense was quiet in their half of the fourth.
This year’s offense isn’t on the torrential pace the 2016 team had when they recorded the highest run differential in the league, +270. Power bats like Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez have yet to catch stride and the reigning NL MVP opened the year in a 0-for-14 slump.
Bryant broke his slump with a dribbler to third in the third inning, but by his standards he’s still in a rut.
Ben Zobrist gave Chicago their only run on a lead off line-drive home run in the second inning off Milwaukee’s starter Jimmy Nelson. Last season, the veteran slashed .300/.300/.883 with four walks and three hits against Nelson.
Milwaukee’s pitching staff hasn’t had much success slowing Zobrist down either. He hit .304 with 13 walks and nine runs scored last season against them.
Javier Baez collided with Jason Heyward in shallow center field on a ‘tweener. Baez slowly walked off the field under his own power next to Papa Joe.
Jon Jay replaced Heyward in center afterwards, and Zobrist moved from right field to second base. Baez exited with a left eye contusion and will be evaluated over the next couple of days.