Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/8/22): Morel in CF, Heyward RF, Madrigal 2B, Stroman Starting

Update: The game has been postponed due to rain and has been rescheduled for August 18 at 2:05pm CT. That had been an off day for Cubs after a three-game series at Nationals, so they will now have 20 games in 20 days between August 13-31.

The Cubs got thumped last night in a game that saw seven balls leave the yard, many of which cleared the deeper fence in left. One of those came off the bat of Christopher Morel on the first pitch of the game, but two more came on the first three pitches Keegan Thompson threw. As home runs continue to increase with warmer weather and perhaps some less organic influence, the Cubs need to hit more of them with runners on base.

Morel’s on-base streak can legally purchase alcohol and he’ll try to push it to 22 as he leads off in center, followed by Willson Contreras at catcher and Ian Happ in left. Frank Schwindel is the first baseman, Patrick Wisdom is at third, Rafael Ortega is the DH, and Nico Hoerner is at short. Jason Heyward is in right and Nick Madrigal rounds things out at second.

That’s not a very attractive pairing at the bottom of the order, with a combined wRC+ of 109 between two players whose grasp on a roster spot is much firmer than it should be. Does Clint Frazier have an injury we don’t know about or does David Ross just hate him? Though he hasn’t exactly been dynamite, he’s at least producing runs at close to league average.

The real answer is that the Cubs aren’t in a position to benefit from winning ballgames and the relationship between Ross and Heyward goes back to Atlanta. Still, it’s odd that Frazier hasn’t been in the starting lineup since June 4 and hasn’t played in the field since the day before that. Giving Heyward everyday reps over just about anyone is inexplicable at this point, and that’s to say nothing of the roster spot.

I guess Heyward does have a 112 wRC+ in 18 whole plate appearances during that stretch, so there you have it.

Marcus Stroman is on the mound for the Cubs as he looks to bounce back from his worst start of the season last Friday against the Cardinals. The righty lasted just four innings and gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits, though he did strike out seven with only one walk. The sinker and change both got hammered in that one as it just seemed like the Cardinals had Stroman figured out quickly.

Those games will happen, now it’s just a matter of pushing past the poor outing and securing a split.

Going for the Orioles is 31-year-old journeyman Jordan Lyles, who is pitching for his seventh team in 12 seasons. The big righty has gotten decent results in spite of a .351 BABIP and he’s been relatively consistent save for one really bad start, so this isn’t going to be a walkover by any means.

That said, Lyles hasn’t done anything particularly well this season and shouldn’t present any real difficulties for Cubs hitters unless they beat themselves. His sinker and curve are decent, but they only account for about 30% of his pitches. The four-seam, slider, and change have all been hit pretty well and should have the Cubs looking to mash early in at-bats.

Lyles throws a lot of first pitch strikes and doesn’t walk many batters, and he’s been able to limit damage at home this season. He has yet to allow a homer in Baltimore and has been particularly dominant against left-handed batters, holding them to a .263 wOBA. That’s pretty incredible when you see that he has surrendered a .493 wOBA to lefties when he’s on the road.

The wildest aspect of Lyles’s splits is that he’s faced the Yankees twice in Baltimore already and has pitched very well both times. That just means he’s due for a correction and the Cubs could use a get-right game before heading off to play the Yankees themselves.

First pitch from the ceate-a-park in Baltimore is set for 6:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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