The Cubs picked up another win on Friday afternoon, though a lot of fans were unable to watch due to Apple TV+’s exclusive television broadcast. And just so everyone’s clear on that, Cubs ownership doesn’t make those choices. In any case, the series with the Rangers continues Saturday with what promises to be some of the best weather we’ve seen at Wrigley so far this season.
The usual suspects are all in their regular spots at the top third of the order, then it’s Trey Mancini cleaning up at first base. Patrick Wisdom is in right, Luis Torrens is the DH, Cody Bellinger is in center, and Yan Gomes is catching. Nick Madrigal resumes his semi-regular role at third base.
Justin Steele is on the mound for the second time and he, like Marcus Stroman yesterday, will be trying to repeat an excellent debut. The lefty pitched six scoreless innings against the Brewers, striking out eight with just one walk while scattering three hits. Two-thirds of the balls in play against him were on the ground, which is a perfect recipe for success when added to the swings and misses.
Steele went really big on the slider in that first outing, using it over 51% of the time to get those great results. That percentage is likely to come down as warmer weather allows him to get a better feel for his curve and maybe his change as well, but he’ll mainly live and die by the fastball/slider combo.
The Rangers are going with Martín Pérez, who is back with the Rangers after accepting the qualifying offer from them over the winter. That was a little surprising given his overall body of work, but the 32-year-old lefty was the surprise staff ace for Texas last season and he bolsters a rotation that got a lot better this past offseason.
Pérez picked up a win over the Phillies his first time out, though he allowed eight hits and walked three batters through 5.2 innings. He struck out seven, however, and managed to work around all that traffic. He’ll lean heavily on his sinker to get first-pitch strikes, then he’ll go with either the cutter or change depending on the situation. Typically not a big whiff guy, Pérez will try to work the margins for called strikes.
The Cubs really need to get big production from their right-handed hitters, as Pérez has always pitched to traditional splits. Even his big year in ’22 saw him allow righties to put up 50 more wOBA points than lefties, though that .298 mark was 46 points lower than his career average. Assuming he falls back to his norms in terms of strikeouts, this should be a good matchup for the Cubs’ style.
They don’t strike out much as it is and they rack up base knocks to push runs across, so more of the same combined with a strong Steele start will take them to a series win.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 3:05pm CT on Marquee, FS1, and 670 The Score.
Here is today’s #Cubs starting lineup for game 2 vs. Texas!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 8, 2023