Wednesday, April 17, 2024

An Underlying Play On Tuesday That Could Shape Cubs’ Future

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Tuesday night was a cold, windy, and rainy night at the Federal Landmark. But nobody notified the Cubs’ bats of the weather; they were as hot as ever.

The Chicago Cubs exploded for 12 runs on 14 hits, including four home runs, at the expense of the Colorado Rockies. First, it was Seiya Suzuki with a laser that was recorded as the hardest hit ball of his career. In the third inning, Christopher Morel sent the first pitch he saw into the left-field bleachers. Garrett Cooper joined the party with a three-run shot in the sixth, adding to his triple in the second inning. Then, it was Cody Bellinger with the moment of the night.

As the crowd chanted his name, Bellinger rocketed a ball to right, bouncing off the video board. Our first Belli-Bomb of the year came in the most perfect way.

Javier Assad followed Shota Imanaga’s historic performance with a gem of his own. Assad went six innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just four hits and one walk and struck out five batters. Jose Cuas and Luke Little came on in relief to finish the job and give Assad his first win of the season.

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Whether it’s a true reflection of how strong this lineup can be or just taking advantage of a lull in competition in the schedule, the Cubs’ offense has looked much better in the last three games than when the season began just under a week ago. The pitching has exceeded all expectations, too. While the bats and Assad were the night’s focus, one key play hopefully stuck with Craig Counsell more than anything.

Nick Madrigal’s Highlight Play Is Why Having A Defensive Third Baseman Matters To Cubs

Kris Bryant came up to bat in the sixth inning with a runner on second base and two outs. Javier Assad had been showing signs of losing his touch in his fingers due to the cold. This was set up to be his last batter, regardless of the outcome. Bryant hit a sharp ground ball down the third base line, and Nick Madrigal made the play of the night. He stopped the ball, popped up and set his feet, and fired a stripe to first to get the third out.

There is a high probability that if Christopher Morel were playing third base at that moment, Bryant would have ended up safe, and the inning would have continued. Even with a seven-run lead at the time, the whole trajectory of the game could have changed with two on in the heart of the Rockies’ lineup.

Morel has had a monstrous start to his season at the plate. He has a .381 batting average in five games and an OPS of 1.171. He’s been everything the Cubs dreamed of on offense. But the defense is below average. He’s started three games and has been tagged for two errors. Frankly, his error number should be higher, with some misplays counted as hits.

Madrigal is a much better defender than Morel right now. And he’s holding his own at the plate, batting .300 with three RBIs and a stolen base. If the point is to put the best team on the field and win games, Madrigal is the best option defensively at third base. Morel is a perfect designated hitter.

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Brewzer
Apr 3, 2024 11:38 am

If Madrigal is the Cubs best option at third base, they need more options.

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