The Cubs lulled into St. Louis on, well, a lull. They’d lost five of six dating back to last weekend against the Yankees. This game was a bit weird even before the first pitch, for a few reasons. The first was that Kris Bryant was scratched with an illness minutes before the game. The second was that Eddie Butler was on the mound.
Wait, who’s Eddie Butler? He was a former top 50 prospect. The Cubs got him from the Rockies in a February 1 trade. He’s one of those guys who’s a stuff-and-no-command pitcher. And we saw the stuff tonight to go with meh command.
Butler was very, very good tonight. FanGraphs had a great article on him and why he was not so hot with the Rockies. It feels like the Cubs let him do his own thing a little more and it showed tonight. He was sitting 93-94 with the fastball but got it up to 97 with some nasty arm-side run. He also featured a curve and change that were quite effective. The only problem was that he elevated his pitch count because he couldn’t find the zone. He finished with a line of 6 innings pitched, only two hits, three walks, and five punchouts.
Oh, this is some sexy run pic.twitter.com/sOFTzcjKoM
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) May 13, 2017
As for the offense, it was all Willson Contreras. In the 2nd and the 4th, Willy launched, and I mean launched, solo shots for the only Cubs runs until a solo shot from…Tommy La Stella. Tommy La Stella? He played tonight Unfortunately, Jon Jay had to leave the game early with back spasms. La Stella replaced him and contributed a not-too-shabby homer and a double.
Carl Edwards Jr. pitched the 7th but gave up a solo shot to Randal Grichuk. It was not hit hard and Almora kind of had a chance to make a catch but it snuck out. Edwards struck out two, but with two outs allowed two men on, he was finished.
Enter Hector Rondon, who came on and threw two pitches that were very much not strikes. But the second pitch, well, Willson “The Sherriff” Contreras threw an absolute rocket to Anthony Rizzo and got #CubsLegendDexterFowler dangling off first base to get out of the jam.
Despite Edwards’ troubles, his appearance reminded me of a tweet I saw earlier today that is indicative of how damn good he has been.
Since the start of 2016 Carl Edwards Jr has the best fastball by BAA (.127, 18 for 118) & 5th best curveball (5 for 50, .100). He's awesome
— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 12, 2017
Those are small numbers. Small numbers are good, in my hearty opinion.
And that’s really all this game had. Koji Uehara locked it down in the 8th. Wade Davis came on to close it out, but he allowed a run for the first time in his Cubs career. He struck out Kolten Wong for what should have been the final out, but the ball bounced and Contreras launched one to Rizzo, who just didn’t make the catch. Randal Grichuk scored from second, but Davis struck out Matt Adams and the Cubs won 3-2.
Stats that matter
- Willson Contreras’s two homers carried some significance beyond the score. The first one was a personal best, 109 mph exit velocity. He then PR’d himself with 113.6 MPH on the next one. I love Willy does things like this.
- Eddie Butler had a high pitch count because of a nearly 30-pitch 1st, but he only had three walks. If he keeps this up, we’re going to see a lot of Butler and a lot less of Brett Anderson.
A win is a win is a win, and a win in St. Louis is that much sweeter. Particularly when it comes behind a guy who just got called up to make the start. Maybe this will even stand as a mile marker when we look back.
Big Jon Lester takes the bump against gasoline machine Carlos Martinez in a 3:05 game.