Marcus Stroman, Seiya Suzuki show what money can buy in Cubs’ 5-4 loss to Brewers
Stroman allowed one run in five innings in his Cubs debut, and Suzuki hit his first big-league home run.
It’s good to spend money. Whether the Cubs dished out enough to be a factor this season remains to be seen.
During the Cubs’ 5-4 loss Sunday to the Brewers, outfielder Seiya Suzuki and right-hander Marcus Stroman showed why teams open their wallets. The Cubs shelled out more than $170 million to snag the two and replenish a thin major-league roster after the 2021 teardown, though what happened Sunday also highlighted questions about the bullpen.
Suzuki, who joined the Cubs on a five-year, $85 million deal after leaving Japan, hit a three-run home run in the first inning against Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta for his first big-league homer. The Cubs also had to pay a $14.625 million posting fee to acquire the 27-year-old Suzuki, one of the most coveted position players to leave Japanese baseball for North America.
Through three games, it doesn’t look as though the learning curve is too steep for Suzuki. He has reached base in seven of his 13 plate appearances.
‘‘I feel like I’m still trying to find the perfect balance in my at-bats and trying out different things every day,’’ Suzuki said through a translator. ‘‘I feel like I’m [not quite] there yet in terms of my adjustments.’’
The Cubs signed Stroman, 30, to a three-year, $71 million contract right before the lockout. Making his Cubs debut, Stroman allowed one run and two hits in five innings. The only blemish was Willy Adames’ homer in the third.
A revved-up Stroman had extra velocity early but was trying to stay calm. Still, he fed off the crowd at Wrigley Field, pumping up the fans as he went out to the bullpen to warm up.
‘‘I love energy,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not your typical baseball player who’s going to be a robot out there. I appreciate the people, and I’m going to let them know I appreciate them.’’
Stroman left with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs’ shaky relief corps couldn’t hold it. Brewers pinch hitter Mike Brosseau hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh against left-hander Daniel Norris as the Cubs missed a chance to sweep the series.
Manager David Ross said Stroman’s laid-back personality stands out. At the same time, he mentioned Stroman’s preparation, work ethic and routine and likened him to former Cubs left-hander Jon Lester.
‘‘This guy comes in, gets his work done,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He’s diligent about what he wants to do with his preparation, and then he goes into being a teammate.’’
The six-year, $155 million contract the Cubs gave Lester after the 2014 season signaled they were ready to compete. And though Lester was gone by then, the era his deal launched ended when the Cubs traded Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo for prospects last summer.
With the championship core spread out around baseball, president Jed Hoyer and the Cubs had to make moves to stay competitive in 2022. Suzuki and Stroman were expensive, but it’s obviously too early to judge whether the Cubs added enough around them to hang around for a playoff berth while building for the future.
Stroman already is thinking about the long haul this season and understood why he was pulled after throwing 79 pitches.
‘‘It’s a journey, it’s a process,’’ Stroman said. ‘‘We want to be healthy and playing playoff baseball all the way into August, September and October, so Rossy has to be the one to kind of adjust for health and make sure we don’t do too much.’’