Cubs

Observations: New-look Cubs drop opener vs. Nationals

Cubs
USA TODAY

The Cubs took the field Friday night at Nationals Stadium featuring a lineup without the most recognizable core in baseball.

Following trades of Javy Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs lost 4-3 to a Nationals team that experienced its own significant turnover before Friday’s trade deadline, with Max Scherzer and Trea Turner among the players moved.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. Whether anyone can remember the last time Báez, Bryant and Rizzo all were out of the Cubs lineup, outside of being rested before the playoffs, it was certainly strange to see on Friday. Sergio Alcántara started at shortstop, Matt Duffy at third base and Patrick Wisdom at first.

2. Not Báez: Alcántara assumed Báez’ shortstop position, which Nico Hoerner will likely take over once he returns from the injured list (oblique strain). Alcántara flashed some leather with a nice leaping grab in the first, also going 2-for-4 at the plate.

3. Not Rizzo: Patrick Wisdom started at first base, also doing so Thursday with Rizzo on the bench in his final game with the Cubs. Hitting cleanup, Wisdom went 1-for-3 with a two-run single and a walk.

4. Bryant played six positions for the Cubs this season, including all three outfield spots, which Ian Happ (left), Rafael Ortega (center) and Jason Heyward (right) occupied on Friday.

 

5. Ortega figures to get a bulk of the starts in center, with Happ in left, after the Cubs also traded Jake Marisnick at the deadline. Ortega continued his red-hot month of July, going 2-for-4 with a double. He's 19-for-52 (.365in 23 games this month.

6. Still here: We’re talking about Willson Contreras, the lone core position player left on the Cubs after the deadline. Contreras hit second Friday and went 1-for-4 with a double and a run. David Ross and a trainer checked on him at second base after the double, but Contreras stayed in the game.

7. Jake Arrieta made a surprise start Friday in place of Trevor Williams, whom the Cubs traded to the Mets with Báez. It was Arrieta’s first start since July 6, as he went on the injured list earlier this month with hamstring tightness, also giving him a chance to take a mental reset after an extended rough stretch.

8. The last time Arrieta pitched at Nationals Park with the Cubs, he allowed six runs and seven stolen bases in four innings. Miguel Montero was critical off the right-hander’s ability to hold runners after that game, and the catcher was designated for assignment the next day.

Friday, Arrieta threw 57 pitches in four innings, allowing six hits and two runs.

9. New guy: Frank Schwindel pinch hit for Arrieta in the fifth and popped up to second base. The Cubs called up Schwindel, a first baseman, from Triple-A Iowa pregame after all the trades. They claimed him off waivers from the A’s earlier this month.

10. New guy II: Cubs 2021 Futures Game representative Manuel Rodríguez made his MLB debut with a scoreless eighth. The flamethrower featured a 99 mph fastball and struck out two.

On deck: First pitch Saturday is 6:05 p.m. CT. Kyle Hendricks (12-4, 3.85 ERA) is the Cubs’ probable starter, and Washington’s is to be determined.

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