Star of the Game – Tim Hudson (.258 WPA)
Shark on the Loose
For five innings Jeff Samardzija allowed Cubs fans to forget whatever transpired in the final two innings last night. He put together a scintillating 13-strikeout performance through five and two-thirds innings on a breezy day in Hotlanta. Shark struck out 11 of the first 16 batters in the game, including two one-two-three innings done with K’s. The only baserunner to reach base against Samardzija in the first four innings was B.J. Upton, who led the game with a single before walking in the third. As the strikeout count rose, so did the stir on social media sites about the prospects of Samardzija challenging Kerry Wood’s single-game record.
Despite Shark’s ability to make Braves’ hitters look silly in the first five innings, he was far from being economical in the process. Entering the sixth inning, Samardzija had thrown 87 pitches to record 15 outs and by the time he was knocked from the game, there were 105 pitches credited to his right arm.
The 13 strikeouts were fun to watch and made me feel like I was about to be a part of something special, but Shark got cute in the later innings. I’m not sure if he felt that maybe the Braves’ hitters were starting to catch up to his fastball, but he was still missing bats with 97-MPH pitches in the sixth. The hits by Upton and Ramiro Pena were both on change ups on the outside of the plate. His off-speed pitches also accounted for the two wild pitches in the fifth that led to Atlanta’s first run.
There is no questioning that Samardzija is on the cusp of becoming a top of the line starter, but he needs to A) control his frustration on the mound when things do not go his way and B) go with what is working more.
What’s a Hit?
Even with the hit parade in last night’s loss, the Cubs still only have two players batting above the Mendoza line –Starlin Castro and Nate Schierholtz. We knew that the Cubs were going to struggle from the plate, but the early returns are a bit harsher than the perceived reality. Maybe I was naive to think the bats would be a little bit better this year.
The Cubs have only outscored two teams this year, the Pirates (8 runs) and Giants (12 runs). San Francisco has played one less game, which will be evened out by tonight and the Pirates are 1-5. My bet is for the Cubs and Bucks to be bottom of the barrel by evening end.
Tweet of the Day
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) April 7, 2013
This series could be just what the Cubs need. The Brewers are struggling worse than the us. After winning on opening day, the Brewers have lost five straight, including a sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks that ended with an 11 inning loss that saw five members of the bullpen used. This is a series, if we play well, we can win.
Monday – 2:20pm EDT (WGN) – Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 7.20 ERA)
Jackson will get the assignment in the Cubs’ home opener. The righty took the loss in his Cubs debut, giving up two runs on three hits and striking out five over five innings vs. the Bucs. He has a career 1-2 record in three starts at Wrigley. Estrada will seek to control his adrenaline and his breaking pitches in the Cubs’ home opener. The latter escaped him in his season debut, though Estrada did manage to strike out eight Rockies hitters in five innings.
Tuesday – 8:05pm EDT (WGN) – Travis Wood (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
Wood had an impressive first start, holding the Pirates to one hit over six scoreless innings. He was able to locate his pitches, and didn’t get in any trouble. He can only hope for a better season at Wrigley, where he’s 3-6 with a 4.36 ERA. Peralta set the tone for a long season debut when he threw a first-pitch ball to six of the first seven Rockies batters he faced. With his 95-96-mph sinker, Peralta knows he would be better served challenging hitters with Strike 1.
Wednesday – 8:05pm EDT (CSN+) – Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.71 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
This will be Feldman’s Wrigley Field debut. He threw 102 pitches over 4 2/3 innings in his first Cubs start, and only topped 100 pitches seven times last season. Feldman struggled with his command in his first outing against the Braves. Lohse barely had a Spring Training, yet he was the only Brewer to deliver a quality start in the first turn through the team’s five-man rotation. After an 87-pitch debut, he should be cleared to top 100 pitches in this game.
All scouting notes taken from MLB.com