Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/13/22): Steele Facing Padres

The Cubs got the better of the Padres when these teams met in San Diego in a series that feels like it was last year instead of a month ago. Seriously, remember how the Cubs won that series and then the next two to get some of us thinking they might have figured something out? They’ve gone 8-15 since that mini-run and have dropped six straight after that sweep in New York.

Despite dropping their last two games, the Padres have won seven of 10 and hold the Wild Card leading while trailing the Dodgers by just half a game in the NL West. Pitching has been their calling card and Yu Darvish is pitching like an ace most nights. He’s still prone to those occasional hiccup games in which he allowed a bunch of runs, but he’s also put together four scoreless starts this season.

Cubs fans are already quite familiar with a varied repertoire that features a mid-90’s fastball, cutter, slider, sinker, curve, and splitter. Then you have the variations of each, which lead some services to classify the pitches differently. Regardless of whether Marquee favors the slider or cutter, Darvish throws the combo around 50% of the time. The cutter is harder and sharper at around 92 mph and the slider is typically at 85 mph or so.

He’s throwing the splitter a bit more than usual, effectively replacing his previous changeup usage, and he’ll mix in a curve about 8% of the time. That knuckle-curve grip he learned from Craig Kimbrel has actually been his best offering in terms of per-pitch value, and I have this sinking feeling he’ll be fooling Cubs hitters with it all night.

Justin Steele is going to bring it in this one, if for no other reason than to break the run of young starters getting shelled. He had a bad outing of his own in Cincinnati at the end of May, but his last two starts have been much better with a little help from Jon Lester. Steele will need to get the whiffs back up to keep the Padres at bay and it might help that they haven’t seen him yet.

It won’t matter if the bats don’t wake up, starting with Christopher Morel in center. Maybe he can get a new streak started tonight to set the table for Willson Contreras, who is DH’ing in this one, and Ian Happ in left. Frank Schwindel bats cleanup and will play first, then it’s Patrick Wisdom at third and Yan Gomes behind the plate. Nico Hoerner is at short, Jason Heyward is in right, and Jonathan Villar is at second.

First pitch from Wrigley Field is set for 7:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and MLB Network (out of market only), with 670 The Score on the radio call.

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