CHICAGO – A letdown? Hardly, he was even better.
This time he didn’t allow anything on the scoreboard, pitched longer, and increased his strikeouts. Tyler Chatwood was strong for a second-straight game in 2020, and it got the Cubs another win on the young season.
The right-handed pitcher got into the seventh inning against the Pirates Saturday night at Wrigley Field, which is a good thing considering the bullpen’s struggles. He scattered three hits during that time without allowing a run, striking out a career-high 11 batters.
He needed some help from Jeremy Jeffress to get through a slow ending, in fact the reliever got a major out to aid the cause in a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh.
“It’s fun when I can sequence stuff and put pitches together and actually use my whole arsenal,” said Chatwood, who improves to 2-0 on the season. “It’s fun to be able to do that, I’m reading swings a lot better so it’s fun to do right now.”
It’s the same for David Ross to see, who is needing all the innings he can get out of his starters with his bullpen still going through growing pains this season. Through six innings, Chatwood allowed only one run with ten strikeouts, while homers by Ian Happ and Javier Baez gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
“Tyler’s in a really good place right now,” said Ross of Chatwood. “He was totally in command that entire game right up there till the end. Maybe he started running out of a little stream, we started getting to back end of the pitch counts as we’re trying to build these guys up.”
Jeffress bailed him out when he did load the bases in the seventh inning with two outs, getting Phillip Evans to ground out to end the frame. The reliever would then pitch a perfect eighth, and two more runs on a Kyle Schwarber homer in the bottom of the inning made it 4-0.
Yet it almost wasn’t enough.
Kyle Ryan gave up three hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth inning, getting just one out and leaving a runner on base. Rowan Wick would take over, allowing an RBI groundout before another groundball preserved the one-run win.
That’s good news for Chatwood, who is looking strong in his first two outings of a shortened 2020 season.