The Chicago Cubs pitching staff has dominated its competition Thursday-Saturday, allowing one run in 27 innings, including throwing the team’s first no-hitter Friday night against the San Diego Padres.
A meaningless game in spring training or game one of the World Series, it’s incredibly difficult to throw a no-hitter at the highest level of baseball.
The Cubs pitching staff did just that against the Padres with Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz and Jake Cronenworth in the starting lineup. While the Pads were not at full strength, seven Cubs pitchers were able to command the strike zone all night long, resulting in the Cubs taking the game 4-0.
Justin Steele started the dominance for Chicago, throwing two quick innings of work against the bulk of the Padres starting lineup. Steele, who has emerged as one of the more reliable southpaw arms, will be a middle-of-the-rotation piece for manager David Ross and company.
In his second big-league season in 2022, Steele pitched to an impressive 3.18 ERA, establishing himself as a bonafide starter for the rotation.
During his rookie season, Steele made 20 appearances for the Cubs, nearly splitting time as a starter/bullpen arm. While it seems veteran Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs on opening day against the Milwaukee Brewers March 30, Steele is definitely still in the running to be the second pitcher for the rotation.
Steele was followed by six relief pitchers, Javier Assad, Brad Boxberger, Adbert Alzolay, Jeremiah Estrada, Cameron Sanders and Nick Burdi, who combined for the final seven innings of work. Assad pitched two innings while the rest of the Cubs’ relievers pitched one inning each.
The pitchers were fantastic at throwing to contact, as the Padres only struck out seven times the entire game.
The Cubs historic pitching performance sat directly in the middle of two dominant outings from the pitching staff. In total, the Cubs have allowed one run over the past 27 innings of work.
The lone run allowed came in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics March 2, a Max Muncy double against Ryan Borucki. The Los Angeles Angels traveled to Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona, and the Cubs pitching staff dominated again on Saturday.
Spring training can be a stressful and exciting time for players. The spring is when many fans get their first taste of highly-touted free agents. The face of last season’s spring training was Seiya Suzuki, the Japanese superstar outfielder Cubs management spent a five-year contract on.
This season, it’s former National League MVP Cody Bellinger. Since his dominant season in 2019, Belli has drastically fallen off to where the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t see him fitting in the lineup at Dodger Stadium.
President Jed Hoyer took a small risk on the project, hoping that a change of scenery will bring Bellinger somewhat back to form. In a small sample size of nine at-bats, Belli has played well, and his swing looks as pure as ever.
David Bote is a Cubs player not talked about often, as his spot on the roster has dissipated. After appearing in 45 of the 60 games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Bote has played in 138 games since, with injuries and lack of production causing the fall-off. In spring training, though, Bote has been the best hitter, batting over .600 with one home run and four RBI.
Bote is one of a few players, Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel and Nick Madrigal, fighting to start at third base. While it’ll be impossible for Bote to continue his tear until opening day, his play could make the starting third basemen decision more difficult for fourth-year manager David Ross.