Chicago Cubs Lineup (8/24/20): Happ Leadoff, Hoerner 2B, Mills Facing Tigers

The Cubs put up a total of seven runs in three games against the White Sox, which is five fewer than the number of homers the Sox hit in the series. That’s not great, but at least the home team managed to pull out a late win on Sunday that could give them a little momentum heading into a set in Detroit.

Ian Happ is leading off in center, Anthony Rizzo is at first, Javy Báez is at short, and Kyle Schwarber is cleaning up in left. Willson Contreras catches, Jason Heyward mans right, Victor Caratini handles DH duties, and David Bote is at third. Nico Hoerner is at second and batting ninth, where his aggressive approach might play out really well.

Alec Mills has had a pretty rough go of it since jumping out with three solid starts to open the season. He was cruising against the Brewers before a mistake to Christian Yelich, then he got tagged early in the first half of last Wednesday’s doubleheader. More troubling, he only registered one strikeout with two walks while giving up a season-high seven hits.

Mills doesn’t need to be perfect, but he’s got to avoid the big inning and keep his team in the game against a young man would could be a formidable opponent.

Making just the second start of his career is 23-year-old righty Casey Mize, rated as Detroit’s No. 2 prospect and No. 13 in all of MLB by FanGraphs heading into the season. Those rankings are actually held back by his injury history, as the folks from FG say “Mize is arguably the top pitching prospect in all of baseball” based on pure stuff alone.

Mize has hellacious stuff. His four-pitch mix has actually gotten better since college because he and the Tigers successfully added greater demarcation between his cutter and slider, the latter of which now has more two-plane sweep. His entire repertoire is capable of missing bats, like [Tigers No. 1 prospect Matt] Manning’s, but Mize’s split is superior to Manning’s change and he has an additional weapon, the cutter, that Manning does not.

Mize struck out seven with no walks in his debut against the White Sox, allowing a solo home run to Edwin Encarnación before giving up three hits and a pair of runs in the top of the 5th. That damage came against the curve and splitter, with the fastball and cutter showing quite well for the rookie. Despite the information above, tracking services show only the cutter and don’t register his slider.

The fastball sits around 95 mph and the sinker is just a wee bit slower, then that power cutter comes busting in at 89 to get swings and misses. Mize actually throws the cutter (27.4%) more than any other pitch, followed closely by the splitter (26%). Those pitches combined for over 53% of his offerings to the Sox, with the sinker (17.8%), four-seam (16.4%), and curve (12.3%) accounting for the rest.

Those numbers could also change dramatically given the small sample, but the key in this one is going to be the sharpness of his breaking stuff. If he hangs a few like he did against the Sox, the Cubs need to jump on them and not let him get away with mistakes. That’s something this team hasn’t don’t a good job of lately and it’s cost them as opposing pitchers are allowed to settle into a groove.

Given the quality of his raw stuff, being aggressive might be a good idea. Mize has proven to be an excellent strike-thrower and there’s no need to let him get ahead and use that cutter for strikeouts.

First pitch is at 6:10pm CT on Marquee Sports Network, FS1, and 670 The Score.

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