Friday, April 19, 2024

Hayden Wesneski Gets Win in MLB Debut, Cubs Snap Losing Streak


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The Cubs beat Cincinnati in game one of the series as Wade Miley made his first start since June and his fifth this season.  The Cubs are 3-7 in their last 10 games following a sweep by the Cardinals and back-to-back series losses in Milwaukee and Toronto.  It has not been all bad, the Cubs are still 22-21 after the All-Star break.  Last night we saw the bats come back to life and help mid-season acquisition Hayden Wesneski record the win in his first major league game.

Hayden Wesneski

The Cubs got Hayden Wesneski at the trade deadline in exchange for Indiana Hoosier Scott Effross.  The departure of Effross left a large hole in the Cubs’ bullpen.  Scott has been on the injured list and has not pitched since August 20th, although he has recorded good numbers with New York.

Wade Miley got the start for the Cubs and had a good start to the evening.  He threw 4 innings, only allowing 2 hits and 2 earned runs while striking out 6.  Hayden entered in the 5th inning trailing 3-1 and immediately went to work striking out the first two batters he faced.

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Wesneski’s arsenal features 5 pitches; a 4-seam fastball, sinker, curve, slider, and changeup.  He mainly used the curveball and sinker last night as they accounted for 26 and 18 of his 61 pitches respectively.  The slider he broke out to former Cub Austin Romine was absolutely nasty and hopefully, we will be treated to that for years to come.

His debut could not have been much better; throwing 5 scoreless innings while striking out 8 batters and recording the win.  We should see Wesneski in a similar role that Keegan Thompson had last season and at the beginning of 2022.

Thompson worked out of the bullpen in mainly long-relief opportunities before transitioning to the starting spot this season.  It allowed Keegan to throw multiple innings a game and work his arm strength up to a position where he can be a starter every five days and that is exactly what we need out of Hayden.

The Bats Are Back

Following a series against the Cardinals where the Cubs were shut out twice, whoever was on the mound was going to need run support.  Wesneski entered while the Cubs were trailing 3-1 and perhaps his entrance was the jumpstart the bats needed because they came to life in the bottom of the 5th inning.  Alfonso Rivas drew a walk, Morel then pushed a bunt to the right side that moved Rivas to 2nd.  Madrigal grounded out which brought up Seiya Suzuki with 2 outs.


Suzuki hit his 11th homer of the season and tied the game for the Cubs.  Seiya has been hot despite the Cubs’ losing stretch.  He is hitting .366 with a .971 OPS in the last 12 games and .286 with a .793 OPS in the last 25.

The 6th inning saw Nick Madrigal break the tie with a 2-run single scoring Nico Hoerner and Rafael Ortega.  Nick has also seen his stats rise in the last month.

Madrigal is hitting .309 with a .729 OPS in the last 28 days, which is exactly what Chicago was hoping for when the Cubs acquired him last season.  It has been a rough year with injuries and a short spring training but a solid August/September at the plate and some time to get comfortable with shortstop Nico would be great heading into the 2023 season.

Ian Happ

Happ added his 16th home run of the season and 103rd with the Cubs in the bottom of the 1st inning and is in a great stretch at the plate.  In his last 12 games, Happ has hit 3 homers with a .969 OPS.  Ian is having a career season at the plate, but he is sneakily having his best season defensively as well.

In Happ’s first 5 seasons, his cumulative defensive WAR was -1.6 according to Baseball-Reference.  This year it is 0.8, his best by a wide margin.  FieldingBible which measures Defensive Runs Saved has Ian as the best left fielder in the National League with 10.

Nico Hoerner for Gold Glove

Ian Happ is not the only Cub having an outstanding season defensively.  Nico Hoerner has added a dWar of 2.0 to go along with an amazing year at the plate.  The FieldingBible also has Nico as the best shortstop in the National League with 12 defensive runs saved.  You have to wonder if Nico has a shot at the Gold Glove for a shortstop in the National League.

Dansby Swanson, another good defensive shortstop has a dWar of 1.8 with 8 defensive runs saved.  Miguel Rojas for the Marlins has a dWar of 2.0 with 10 defensive runs saved.  It will be interesting to watch what factors they take into consideration for the award.  For example, Swanson has played 200 more innings at shortstop than Hoerner while Rojas has a higher range factor.

What is going on today?

The Cubs play game two of the series and look to improve on their 7-4 season record against the Reds.  The projected starters right now are Javier Assad for the Cubs and the left-hander Mike Minor for Cincinnati.  Assad has thrown 10 innings for the Cubs, allowing only 1 earned run since being called up in August.  He is still without a win but hopefully, the Cubs can change that and secure a series win this evening.

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