The Rundown: Bullpen Woes Continue, Expect Many Lineup Variations This Season, Cardinals Extend Goldschmidt, It’s Been Our Honor Ichiro

Another day, another tie. March Madness showed up at the right time. Can we get the season started already? It would be nice if this week picks up its pace just a little bit.

There’s a lot of talk about the Cubs bullpen lately, and rightfully so. Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop are currently injured; Brad Brach is a little behind the other pitchers after fighting an offseason illness; Mike Montgomery has had limited availability; Tyler Chatwood has trouble finding the strike zone; and there’s a general lack of faith in Brian Duensing and Brandon Kintzler.

The Brewers have injuries at the back end of their bullpen and may be interested in Craig Kimbrel, who would represent a dynamic upgrade to Chicago’s bullpen while serving as a nice obstruction to Milwaukee’s intent. Barring any late moves, Steve Cishek should probably expect to log a lot of innings the first month of the season.

The starters will be asked to eat up a lot of innings and the offense has to be more efficient, too. Scoring one run or less every fourth game will put a lot of strain on the team’s patchwork bullpen.

Joe Maddon wants the team to get off to a fast start, similar to the way the 2016 Cubs finished April with 17-5 record on their way to a 103-win season and a World Series title. By the end of May, the North Siders had won 35 of their first 50 games.

Lack of a strong and healthy bullpen may be Maddon’s biggest deterrent.

“You want to get off to a great start, but everyone does,” Maddon said Tuesday. “When you get off to a great start, it normally benefits you throughout the season.”

Cubs News & Notes

Spring Training Notes

The Cardinals are close to an extension with stud first baseman Paul Goldschmidt on a deal that will go five years and be worth approximately $130 million, St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold reported.

Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has been sidelined with a back injury.

The Brewers bullpen, which was a strength during the home stretch in 2018, is currently in a state of flux due to injuries to two of their three best relievers. It looks like Josh Hader will assume the role of closer unless Milwaukee signs Kimbrel.

Angels GM Billy Eppler sensed the commitment of Mike Trout to the Angels’ organization several years ago.

Bryce Harper hit two home runs yesterday and indicated he is now season-ready.

Teammates and fans watched, wept, and bowed in honor as Ichiro Suzuki played his final game.

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon is being “actively” shopped ahead of the start of the 2019 season. Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart figure to split time behind the dish this season.

Julia Ruth Stevens, daughter of Babe Ruth, has passed away at the age of 102, the Yankees confirmed.

With Sunday Night Baseball announcer Jessica Mendoza now part of the Mets’ front office, ESPN has promised objectivity from its broadcast crew. It should be noted that Alex Rodriguez is a special assistant to the Yankees as well.

On Deck

The Pawtucket Red Sox are “celebrating” A-Rod’s recent engagement to entertainer Jennifer Lopez. In honor of the couple’s forthcoming nuptials, the PawSox will host an engagement party during their game against the Syracuse Mets on April 12. Ben Affleck will throw out the first pitch. Pawtucket is the standard-bearer for minor league promotions.

Extra Innings

It’s been our honor, sir: As much as baseball loved Suzuki, the most prolific hitter in history, the Seattle outfielder loved the game even more. He will truly be missed by the game and its fans.

Friday Walk Up Song

The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy. Woohoo! Cubs baseball is just a seven days away.

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