Heading into this season in Spring Training, one of the major questions for the Cubs was who would land the fifth spot in the starting rotation (assuming Kyle Hendricks was the fourth starter).
Travis Wood ended up winning the job, mostly because a majority of the competition was injured or ineffective.
But Wood is now in the bullpen, and one of those injured candidates — Tsuyoshi Wada — is healthy and now in the rotation.
Wada made his debut Wednesday night, with mixed-but-overall-positive results. The veteran lefty struck out nine but only lasted 4.2 innings (69 pitches). He gave up two runs on four hits and a walk.
I was a little surprised to see Joe Maddon employ the early hook, but the Padres batting order was rolling over for the third time (when Wada has struggled in the past), and the last batter he retired hit a bullet line-drive to center. I think that hard-hit ball was enough to convince Maddon it was time to turn to the bullpen.
Wada started off strong, striking out the first four batters of the game. And he even helped himself at the plate, drawing a walk in the top of the fifth and scoring on a close play at the plate on a triple by Dexter Fowler.
Overall, I probably like Wada in the rotation over Wood. But I also have a sinking feeling that the league will figure him out eventually.
Then again, he was pretty solid in 13 starts last year (3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings). So maybe he will be able to provide a good enough option as a fifth starter after all.
At the very least, he will provide the opportunity for a lot of “Wada puns.”
Big game for the bullpen
The first guy out of the ‘pen for the Cubs last night was Justin Grimm. And he came through in a big way.
He got out of a minor jam after relieving Wada in the fifth, striking out Matt Kemp with two men on. And then he pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He struck out a total of three over his 1.1 innings.
So nice to have him back as a bullpen option.
Zac Rosscup, Jason Motte, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon finished up from there without giving up a run, nailing down the 3-2 victory. Is the Cubs bullpen back? Man, I hope so.
* A pretty funny note in Mike Baxter’s debut Tuesday night. Jesse Rogers says Baxter showed up to the game without any of his equipment.
He used H. Rondon's spikes, K.Bryant's outfield glove, C.Coghlan's infield glove and Edwin Jackson's bat.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 21, 2015
And to top it off, he had to face Craig Kimbrel, one of the toughest closers in MLB.
* Double-A Tennessee outfielders Albert Almora and Bijan Rademacher collided in left field yesterday. The two were able to walk off the field on their own, according to Carrie Muskat. Almora, the Cubs’ first-round pick (sixth overall) in 2012, has dealt with a lot of injuries so far in his short career. It seems to be more of a result of his style of play than him being particularly injury-prone. He missed some time earlier this year with a possible concussion, after diving for a ball in the outfield. After yesterday’s game, he took to Twitter, and it seems like he’s OK (hopefully):
I play the game hard, shit happens! I will never change!
— Albert Almora Jr. (@albertalmora) May 20, 2015