Eager to build on their encouraging Opening Day victory, the Chicago Cubs received an unexpected day off Friday due to inclement weather.
Better weather is in the forecast for Saturday, when the Cubs continue their opening series against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Friday’s postponement followed the Cubs’ season-opening 5-4 victory. Nico Hoerner hit a two-run homer for Chicago and Ian Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh inning.
Friday’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on May 30. The two scheduled starting pitchers will now take the mound on Saturday.
Cubs left-hander Justin Steele (4-4, 4.26 ERA in 2021) made his major league debut last April as a reliever before finishing the season in the rotation.
“To spend seven years in the minors — it was a long journey, went through Tommy John surgery, went through some injuries to get to the big leagues — it just made it all that much sweeter when I finally did make it,” Steele said. “And it’s been really cool to continue the journey.”
The 26-year-old went 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in four games (two starts) against the Brewers last season.
Milwaukee will turn to right-hander Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56), who finished fifth in the NL Cy Young balloting in 2021. Woodruff is 4-1 with a 2.07 ERA in 18 games (16 starts) against the Cubs, including 2-0 with a 0.64 mark in five outings last season.
The Mississippi native is eager to leave Spring Training behind after allowing 16 hits, 15 runs and 14 earned runs in 11 1/2 innings.
“Once the lights turn on and the season gets going, it’s a different ballgame and that’s what I’m ready for,” Woodruff said.
Jason Heyward is 3-for-20 in his career against Woodruff while Happ has been limited to three hits in 21 at-bats, including a home run.
Happ batted fourth on Thursday after making just 14 starts in the cleanup spot last season, when the departed trio of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant combined for 80 starts in the No. 4 slot.
Chicago right fielder Seiya Suzuki went 1-for-2 with two walks in his U.S. debut following nine seasons in Japan.
Milwaukee dropped its opener despite outhitting Chicago 10-8. Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez each had two hits while Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs. The Brewers finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“We kind of dealt with that last year,” said Cain. “I don’t see that as something we’re dealing with all year long. It’s the first game of the season. Everybody is excited and amped up.”
McCutchen served as the designated hitter in his first game with the Brewers after agreeing to a one-year contract last month.
The 35-year-old joins a talented outfield that includes Cain as well as Christian Yelich, Hunter Renfroe and Tyrone Taylor.
Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said McCutchen was signed mainly to serve as the team’s regular designated hitter.
“I think that’s probably the primary spot where he’s going to get plate appearances,” Stearns said. “And then I imagine there’s also going to be times where we’re using the corner outfield. The DH gives us some flexibility to add an additional offensive player. That’s what we’ve done here.”
–Field Level Media