Right-hander Tyler Chatwood joked with manager David Ross that he shouldn’t have let Kyle Hendricks finish the game on Opening Day because the outing would be hard to match.
While Chatwood’s performance in the Cubs’ 9-1 victory Sunday against the Brewers wasn’t the complete-game shutout Hendricks threw, it was a strong opening to his first start back in the Cubs’ rotation.
‘‘We were just messing around,’’ Chatwood said with a smile. ‘‘Kyle set the bar pretty high for everybody. That was incredible. [Today] was good. I mean, [catcher Willson Contreras] and I, we had a good game plan going into it, and we were able to execute. We got [into] a really good rhythm out there, so it was nice.’’
Chatwood always has received rave reviews for his electric stuff, and it was clear from the first pitch that he was locked in. He didn’t allow a hit until Ben Gamel lined a single just over the head of leaping second baseman Nico Hoerner with two outs in the fifth inning.
By the time his outing was over, he had allowed one run and three hits, struck out eight and walked two in six innings. It was his first victory as a starter since June 27 of last season against the Braves.
Chatwood’s stuff is something he has refined by working with the Cubs’ research and development staff.
‘‘I can manipulate a baseball pretty well,’’ he said. ‘‘I was always really fastball-reliant. We all sat down and talked, and they showed me how my other pitches play. I threw a 2-0 curveball to Justin Smoak in the first inning. I don’t think I’ve ever done that, and it was a strike. I came back with two fastballs after that. It just catches guys in-between rather than just sitting in one gear.’’
‘‘That two-seam is real — the two-seam cutter when you’re lane-changing or tunneling, as it’s called now,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He has a really good breaking ball, as well. You saw those hitters off-balance and not knowing which lane to choose.’’
Chatwood’s success will be important for the Cubs’ rotation this season, and working with Hendricks in Arizona during the coronavirus shutdown might have been just what the doctor ordered.
‘‘The two of them were together all the time working out in Arizona and kept throwing,’’ said Hoerner, who hit against Chatwood during the shutdown. ‘‘Seeing them hit the ground running is really no surprise because I’ve seen the body of work.
‘‘For [Chatwood] today, you want to say the first start is like any other start and try to treat it like normal, but I felt extra good for him today.’’
Wieck to injured list
The Cubs put left-handed reliever Brad Wieck on the 10-day injured list with a strained right hamstring. Wieck made his first appearance of the season Saturday and allowed two earned runs in his one inning.
The Cubs recalled right-hander Ryan Tepera from their taxi squad in South Bend, Indiana, before the game.