Beyond Busch will now turn it’s attention to what is happening week to week with a detailed account for each NL Central club and bullet points for the remainder of MLB. Each team is linked to the associated FanSided site if you wish to read more content on the team.
The Cubs have gotten off to a 2-3 start on the exhibition season. After dropping their first two games to the Oakland A’s, the Cubs ripped the Colorado Rockies 11-4 receiving two home runs from Alfonso Soriano and one from outfield prospect Brett Jackson. Soriano added another homer in yesterday’s game and is hitting .625 on the young spring. The Cubs have received good performances on the mound from Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad. Samardzija and Volstad did not allow any runs which each throwing three innings. Matt Garza was shaky in his debut going two innings and allowing two runs on three hits.
The Cubs are looking to make a selection between Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo for the backup catcher spot behind Geovany Soto. Manager Dale Sveum will also be hoping to establish another set-up reliever to compliment Kerry Wood as a bridge to closer Carlos Marmol.
The Reds are off to a 3-2 start this spring. They won their first two games with Homer Bailey taking the mound in the opener followed by Johnny Cueto. Bailey was knocked around while Cueto struck out two in two innings allowing one run off two hits. Mat Latos made his Reds’ debut on Tuesday throwing two scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners. Bronson Arroyo threw three innings the next day allowing one run. Mike Leake made the start yesterday against NL Central rival Milwaukee Brewers. Leake allowed a run on three hits in two frames.
At the plate, Jay Bruce is hitting .667 with 3 RBI and Scott Rolen is hitting .571 as of yesterday. Prospect Zack Cozart is hitting .333 with a SB. Both Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto are hitting .286 so far.
The Astros entered today’s game with a 4-2 record. They received a very nice outing from Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday. He threw three innings of shutout ball allowing one hit and striking out one. Bud Norris took the mound the following day and didn’t allow a hit or run in three innings. Wilton Lopez has saved two games already this spring without allowing a runner to reach base.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez is off to a fast start, hitting .500 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Jordan Shafer is hitting .556 with four runs scored. The team is young but manager Brad Mills will have them ready and they will play hard to win.
The Brewers are 2-2-1 through yesterday’s games. The first four starters, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson, Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada did not allow a run in their appearances. Gallardo struck out four in his start. Zack Greinke pitched two innings yesterday allowing two runs with four strikeouts.
Outfielder Corey Hart had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to remove torn cartilage. Surgery revealed three separate tears in his meniscus. The timeline for his return is 3-4 weeks.
The Pirates are off to a 2-4 start. Kevin Correia, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Karstens have looked good in their starts. Each allowed zero earned runs. James McDonald has made two starts and fared better in the second affair yesterday allowing one run in three innings. Erik Bedard tossed two innings and allowed two runs. Closer Joel Hanrahan has pitched in one game throwing a scoreless hitless frame.
Starling Marte has been pounding the ball so far this spring. He is 9-for-13 with 2 HR and 3 RBI with 4 runs scored. Alex Presley is hitting .500. Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez have homered this spring.
The biggest news in camp is the six-year/$51.5 million extension signed by center-fielder Andrew McCutchen . McCutchen will be a Pirate through 2017 and has an option for the 2018 season. The Pirates have long known they have a player to build around, but it was uncertain whether McCutchen wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. This contract sounds a resounding yes.
Here are notes on the remaining MLB clubs (all stats through Thursday’s games).
Cleveland Indians – 15 players hitting .300 or better
Oakland A’s – Yoenis Cespedes arrives in camp; hits 2 moonshots in simulated game