Cubs get horrendous showing from Jharel Cotton in exhibition loss

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Cubs offense was spotty and Jharel Cotton struggled mightily on Sunday.

It wasn’t what we’re all familiar with but for the first time since last year, the Cubs played an actual game at Wrigley Field with a different team in the visitor’s dugout. The bad news? The rival White Sox headed back to the South Side with an exhibition win. The good? For a few more days, results don’t matter.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. A win-loss record doesn’t yet count, at least not in the grand scheme of things. But individual performance certainly does – and there were a few notable showings, both positive and negative, to take note of from Sunday night’s action.

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Cubs Opening Day starter Kyle Hendricks looked strong in his final preseason tune-up, throwing 83 pitches across 4 2/3 innings of work. His curve ball looked stronger than I personally have ever seen it. If you pair what we saw Sunday with his already above-average change-up, the right-hander could be in line for one heck of a season.

The offense backed Hendricks with a pair of early runs. The first came in the bottom of the first via a solo shot off the bat of second baseman Jason Kipnis – a memorable moment for the veteran in his first in-game action as a member of the Cubs.

A Nico Hoerner sac fly plated Willson Contreras, who showcased his baserunning skills, tagging up twice after singling to lead off the second. That gave Chicago a 2-0 edge, but things went sideways in the fifth when the Sox scored six of their seven runs.

Hendricks retired third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert on a ground out to open the fifth but then Adam Engel took the Cubs starter deep. After a Tim Anderson single and an Eloy Jimenez flyout, Jose Abreu added a knock, giving the Sox runners at the corners with two down. Now this is where it all went south for the North Siders.

Cubs get no help from offseason reclamation project Cotton

As part of the team’s bargain bin approach to shoring up the existing core, Theo Epstein brought in right-hander Jharel Cotton. Now, the right-hander hasn’t appeared in a regular season big league game since 2017 – he underwent Tommy John in 2018 and spent last year in the minors.

If Sunday’s showing was any indication, Cotton isn’t poised to play a big role for Chicago. He inherited the aforementioned two on, two out situation from Hendricks and proceeded to get absolutely torched allowing the following: double, double, double, triple. When the dust settled, the Sox turned a 2-0 deficit into an advantage they would never relinquish.

Next. Cubs will treat exhibition games like regular season action. dark

It’s one game – and it doesn’t count in the standings. But there were certainly some takeaways to keep in mind as we get closer to Friday’s Opening Day matchup with Milwaukee. The offense was inconsistent, albeit while showing plenty of hard contact, Cotton was horrendous and Hendricks looked overall solid. Let’s buckle up and get ready – the two teams do it all again on Monday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.