The Chicago Cubs took two out of three games this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks for the series win.
Arizona won the first game 4-3, but the Cubs bounced back to win the next two games 4-2 and 3-2, respectively. Chicago's offense may not have scored a ton of runs this series, but it didn’t matter because the pitching staff showed up. Let’s look at some of the bright spots from this series.
Kyle Hendricks Continues His Dominance
While it wasn’t a shutout performance, in Game 2 Kyle Hendricks carried over his dominance that he showed off in his last start in San Diego. After a rough early start where it looked as if Hendricks might not last long, the veteran righty settled down and proceeded to throw 5.2 innings, allowing only one run and two walks accompanied by five strikeouts.
If the Professor can continue this consistency throughout the year, don’t be surprised if the Cubs work their way into a potential wild card spot. Do the Cubs need him to go eight-plus innings every start? Of course not, but five to six quality innings will go a long way toward a successful season.
Justin Steele Bounces Back
After a rough past couple of outings for Justin Steele, the lefty showed up to Arizona to prove to Cubs fans he can be a force in the rotation. Steele threw six innings and struck out 10 batters, giving up only one run and two walks and getting the win in Game 3. He was the first Cubs draftee since Jeff Samardzija to strike out at least 10 batters in a start. This is a great outing for Steele to build on, and if he continues to pitch deep into games for the Cubs it can only lead to good things.
Norris and Wick Step Up for the Bullpen
With closer David Robertson on the injured list, the Cubs needed a couple of guys from the bullpen to take the reins. Enter Daniel Norris and Rowan Wick.
Norris, who’s struggled to start the season, entered Game 2 of the series in the seventh to help keep the Diamondbacks from taking the lead. Facing four batters in 1.1 innings, the lefty struck out each hitter he faced in dominant fashion.
Wick took the ball in the ninth, gave up two hits and a walk, but eventually struck out three batters to get the save. He also recorded a save in the series finale. If guys like Norris and Wick can stay consistent in late-inning roles for the Cubs, and Robertson comes back in the same form he was before he went on the IL, don’t be surprised to see Chicago’s bullpen have one of the lowest ERAs in the league by the middle of the summer.
The Chicago Cubs head back to Wrigley Field to host a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Monday. Tune in to the Cubs On Tap podcast for additional postgame reaction and further Cubs commentary all season.