Chicago Cubs Lineup (6/12/22): Morel Leads Off, Heyward in RF, Thompson Starting

The Cubs were carpet-bombed last night in the Bronx as the Yankees took their opposing pitcher’s name to heart and swarmed with six homers. That followed an extra-innings affair in which neither team seemed willing to win, but the Yankees came out on top in the end. The Cubs are now trying to end a five-game skid behind a pitcher who just lost his first game the last time out.

Keegan Thompson gave up three homers of his own as part of a seven-run outing that lasted only three innings when the Cubs were in Baltimore. His task is a lot tougher this afternoon against a group that has established itself as one of the most dangerous in baseball. Thompson will have to get back to keeping the ball in the yard or this could be a short game.

Or a long one, if we’re judging from an emotional sense.

The Cubs are facing Jameson Taillon, with whom they are very familiar from his days with the league’s communal farm team in Pittsburgh. After a year of adjustments, Taillon is putting together what may end up being his best season. Though he’s striking out fewer batters than ever, he’s walking almost no one and has lowered his home run rate from previous campaigns.

Taillon has not walked more than one batter in any start this season and he’s handed out only six free passes in 62.2 innings so far. He’s coming off of his worst outing so far, a four-inning affair in Minnesota that saw him give up four earned runs in as many innings. That’s probably not a good sign.

Though his fastball is holding steady in the mid-90’s, he’s throwing it less than ever because he’s adopted a cutter that comes in around 90 mph. That makes up about 15% of his pitches and is differentiated from the slider, which has a little more sweep and is thrown about four ticks slower. Taillon also throws his curve about 14% of the time, so breaking pitches are a huge part of his repertoire.

Interestingly enough, the changeup he throws only 10% of the time has actually graded out as his best pitch this season after previously being more of an afterthought. That’s a big part of the reason his splits have flipped so dramatically, from giving up a slight platoon advantage to generating heavy reverse results. The righty has limited left-handed batters to a .183 average and .231 wOBA as opposed to .278 and .312 from their right-handed counterparts.

Those differences are even more stark at Yankee Stadium, where lefty batters are hitting .135 with a .162 wOBA and righties are at .305 with a .350 wOBA. Good thing the Cubs can’t really stack many lefty bats against him in this one.

Christopher Morel will lead off again in center, followed by Willson Contreras behind the plate and Ian Happ as the DH. Frank Schwindel is at first, Patrick Wisdom is at third, Jonathan Villar is at second, and Nico Hoerner is the shortstop. Jason Heyward is in right and Rafael Ortega is in left.

Heyward actually had a four-game hit streak snapped last night and he hit his only homer of the season on Friday, so maybe he’s taking all the criticism to heart and telling us all to stick it. Fine by me.

First pitch is set for 12:35pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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