The Cubs and Dodgers have split the first two games of the series, but momentum favors the home team after a complete dismantling that once again saw Julio Urías drummed out early. This is a four-game set, though, so things can change in a pretty big way over the weekend. Or maybe the Cubs keep their foot on the gas and start earning more respect from national observers.
Hayden Wesneski looked nothing like the phenom from spring training through his first two starts, but he figured something out against Oakland. His sweeper wasn’t working at all because he couldn’t establish the feel for it, and he really can’t be effective without it. By his own estimation, he didn’t throw a single sweeper for a strike in those first two games.
That was a function of getting a little tight and trying to make the pitch happen rather than letting it happen. If he can stay relaxed in front of the home crowd, the Cubs will be in the game.
“I was not getting down the mound and I wasn’t spinning the ball out front,” Wesneski explained after his last start. “I was spinning the ball behind my head. I was trying really hard to spin it and it’s like I was muscling it up. You tense up versus being loose, loose, loose and then spin at the end. That’s how it should be. You’re being easy and then when you go, you go.”
The lineup has certainly been going lately, and David Ross is rolling with the usual suspects in the first six spots. Nico Hoerner is at second, Dansby Swanson is the shortstop, Ian Happ is in left, and Seiya Suzuki is in right. Cody Bellinger is in center, Patrick Wisdom handles third base, and Eric Hosmer is the first baseman. Trey Mancini will handle the DH duties and Tucker Barnhart is behind the plate.
How wild is it that MLB’s home run leader is batting sixth?
On the mound for LA is the Sideshow Bob-esque Dustin May, whose stuff is nearly as loud as his hair. May’s fastball sits around 98 and he can zip nasty two-seamers at that same velo, then he’s got a curve, cutter, and change to keep things interesting. All of them have created positive run value so far this season, particularly the sinker and curve.
What’s really wild, however, is that May isn’t really getting many swings and misses. His 6.6% swinging-strike rate is less than half of what he’d gotten in the two previous seasons, leading to a measly 4.88 K/9 mark. His success doesn’t depend on getting whiffs because he gets a lot of grounders and keeps the ball in the yard. That may not be a bad thing for a Cubs team that loves to make contact.
I’ve got a really good feeling about this one, even if May does rediscover the strikeout. First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup at beautiful, historic Wrigley Field!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 22, 2023