The Cubs have been listless since scoring four runs in the opening inning of their second game in London, and now they’ve started pressing in an attempt to get something going. That includes two ill-advised bunts last night, one of which came from a player who had apparently forgotten how many outs there were. His punishment for the mistake? Remaining in the game and getting another start today.
A lot of folks will say Nick Madrigal has played pretty well at third and that Christopher Morel made a similar mental error last night, but that doesn’t hold water with me. Morel admitted his poor judgment, which still wasn’t nearly as bad as Madrigal’s, and giving him one game at third wouldn’t be the end of the world. Plus, Jed Hoyer has stated publicly that it makes sense to give Morel regular playing time at the hot corner.
Hell, Jared Young could handle a game over there too. It’s not like the team has been winning of late with Madrigal in the lineup, so I’m reasonably sure they’d be fine if he sat for a few innings. Alas.
Mike Tauchman will lead off in right as Seiya Suzuki continues to deal with a stiff neck, then it’s Nico Hoerner at second and Morel at DH. Ian Happ is in left, Dansby Swanson plays short, Cody Bellinger is back in center, and Yan Gomes is behind the plate. Young is at first and Madrigal is at third to round things out.
They may not have to score a boatload of runs since Justin Steele is on the mound, but they may want to think about adding a little iron to their anemic offense. It should help that the Guardians have Cal Quantrill on the mound with his 5.61 ERA and the second-lowest strikeout rate in MLB. Of the 131 pitchers who’ve logged at least 50 innings this season, only Yonny Chirinos (12.0%) is below Quantrill (12.8%), who has struck out more than three in just three of his 11 starts.
He’s allowed 64 hits and has walked 20 batters in 59.1 innings, so the Cubs should be able to get plenty of runners on base. As we saw Thursday evening, however, getting them home is a different story. Quantrill has a 94 mph sinker that he throws about half the time, filling up the zone on his arm side from the middle to upper portions. His cutter has been a much better pitch and can generate grounders because he keeps it lower in the zone, but his change, splitter, and curve are all less than great.
Right-handed batters have always carried a higher average, but lefties see him better and put up much better on-base and slugging numbers. That includes 17 of the 20 walks he’s surrendered this year, though lefty batters have logged 21 of 34 strikeouts. Batters from both sides have posted almost identical results against Quantrill on the road, which is worth noting.
This is a very good matchup for a Cubs team that really needs to spark something heading into the break, and I have a feeling they’ll get something going. First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 30, 2023