Now that I've wrapped up the prospect series for the time being, and Spring Training games are in full swing, let's see if I can get into a groove of providing some updates regarding the Major League club on a regular basis.
First up, we've confirmation of what we all surely anticipated: Jon Lester will be the Cubs Opening Day starter. It's been business as usual with Lester so far this spring. His stuff looks the same as it has for the past two years. His approach looks the same. He may be 35, but the guy has made at least 30 starts in 11 consecutive seasons, so until Lester gives us a reason to worry I see no reason to expect anything but a steady season from him.
He will not be the Opening Day closer, but Brandon Morrow is beginning to build up his arm strength:
Brandon Morrow has built up to 120 feet in long toss. Will progress to 135 feet and then 150 feet over the next two weeks. If all goes well, first bullpen session post-surgery will fall around March 25.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 4, 2019
Yu Darvish feels his stuff is now better than it ever has been in his career. He's touched 96-97 in his two spring appearances while mixing in his wide array of offspeed pitches. His start on Sunday was cut short due to the long wait as the Cubs plated 8 runs in the second inning against the White Sox.
Some other notes:
- The Cubs announced the signing of all 17 of their pre-arbitration players. All must signed to at least the minimum MLB salary of $550K (which they only earn while on the 25-man roster or MLB IL). Major League teams can set these players salaries at whatever they want above that threshold. The highest salary was awarded to Willson Contreras at $684K.
- Dillon Maples has yet to walk a batter in three appearances. He did surrender a two-run homer over the weekend, but as long as he is limiting free passes he has a chance to capitalize on his immense talent.
- Dakota Mekkes continues to do what Dakota Mekkes does: throw scoreless innings.
- The Cubs are also beginning to work some of their veteran relievers into the mix and after bringing them along slowly early in camp. Steve Cishek, Tony Barnette and Junichi Tazawa all made their first appearances. Pedro Strop and Brad Brach should make their 2019 debuts soon. Recent signing Xavier Cedeno has been slowed by a minor injury and is currently behind schedule.