Chicago Cubs Lineup (5/25/22): Morel Leads Off, Happ at Cleanup, Hendricks Starting

Wednesday’s game looks to be in serious doubt due to a system of storms that will be hanging around Cincinnati all day, so don’t be surprised if this one gets banged early. Between the weather and the fact that these two teams will meet up several more times this season, it might just be simpler to reschedule it than to try and find a way to play it today. Just don’t tell Craig Counsell I said that.

In the event that they do manage to get it in, Kyle Hendricks will be on the bump for the Cubs following his worst start of the year and one of the worst of his career. The righty allowed seven runs on eight hits, four of which left the yard, and two walks with just three strikeouts. It was his third game score of under 20 as he pushes through some inconsistencies with location.

The Reds are a team that can help any team get out of a funk, but they still have the ability to drive the ball out of the yard and could take advantage if Hendricks isn’t sharp.

On the mound for the home team is 29-year-old Luis Castillo, who is making just his fourth start of the season after missing the first month due to a right shoulder issue. He has gone a little deeper in each of his three previous starts and has looked sharper in each by most accounts. Though he allowed seven hits in six innings last week, he struck out five with no walks and kept the ball on the ground at a 65% clip.

Castillo’s velocity has increased with each outing as well, creeping from 95 mph in his season debut to 96.4 against Toronto. He also went with the slider a lot more frequently in that one, though it could have been a matter of the particular matchup. In the past, Castillo has favored the four-seam over the sinker, running both up there around 97-97 mph.

He’s upped the sinker percentage significantly in the early going, however, throwing it nearly 36% of the time with around half as many four-seams. That has made the changeup his second-favorite pitch after being his go-to in the past, though that might be a matter of feel because he has upped its usage each time out. A very firm offering that typically averages around 88 mph, the change has easily been his biggest weapon.

I always like seeing this matchup between Hendricks and Castillo because the latter throws his offspeed pitch harder than the former throws his fastball. It’s just a fun contrast stylistically and one that offers very different looks for viewers at home and at the park. The Cubs seem to be seeing nothing but beach balls lately, but Castillo presents a different challenge for them.

Christopher Morel has been up to every challenge so far, including batting leadoff and playing second base. Rafael Ortega is in center, Seiya Suzuki is in right, and Ian Happ cleans up in left. Frank Schwindel is the DH, Patrick Wisdom is at third, Alfonso Rivas is the first baseman, and P.J. Higgins is behind the dish. Andrelton Simmons is the shortstop and will bat ninth.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:40pm CT, though I don’t know how they’ll be able to start on time if they can get it going at all. Who knows, maybe the forecast of scattered storms means all the bad stuff will skirt around Great American Ball Park. Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score will have the coverage and you’ll see me sitting somewhere behind the Cubs dugout if you’re watching on TV.

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