The Cubs have a very busy week ahead of them, with doubleheaders Monday and Saturday to give them a total of 11 games in nine days. That means they’re going to need lots of reinforcements, many of whom are coming from the minors as the IL remains way too full.
Matt Swarmer was just called up to take the start in the early game Monday, which was a pretty unexpected move with Caleb Kilian lurking at Triple-A as well. Swarmer was the Cubs’ MiLB Pitcher of the Year in 2018 but had a very rough season in 2019 and then got things figured out last year after another ugly start.
His low-90s fastball isn’t exceptional by any stretch, but he’s gotten really good results from his slider and uses deception to his advantage. Between a huge leg kick and a wrist wrap that hides the ball for a very long time, Swarmer’s stuff really jumps on opposing hitters. He’s been stung badly by the longball in the past, so maybe the Cubs can pick out some of the loosely-wound balls for him in this one.
Swarmer should feel right at home because some of his recent teammates will be in the lineup to support him this afternoon. Christopher Morel leads off at second, followed by Willson Contreras at DH and Frank Schwindel at first. Patrick Wisdom is the third baseman, Nico Hoerner is at short, and Clint Frazier is in left. Nelson Velázquez handles right, P.J. Higgins is the catcher, and Rafael Ortega is in center.
The Brewers have also promoted a pitcher to make his debut in Game 1, calling upon lefty Ethan Small to face the Cubs. Ranked as Milwaukee’s No. 7 overall prospect by MLB.com, Small has been utterly dominant in 136.2 professional innings. He holds a 1.78 ERA and has 177 strikeouts to just 67 walks in that time, plus he’s allowed only five homers.
Small was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year for Mississippi State in 2019, so he’s used to pitching in big situations. He works with a low-90s fastball that plays up because its high spin gives it late life. His changeup may be his best secondary due to its diving armside movement, then he’s got a slider and curve that are still works in progress.
This may be one of those games that comes down to which team can jump out and be more aggressive against players on whom they don’t necessarily have full scouting reports. That has been a problem for the Cubs in the past, but they seem to be getting better in that regard and they’ve also got a few players who don’t know what they don’t know.
I’m very excited to see what besties Morel and Velázquez are able to do, though I’m a little worried about Small. First pitch for the early game is set for 12:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 30, 2022