I started this out with a diatribe about how the Cubs still aren’t willing to improve the roster via obvious position player promotions, but that spun off into its own thing. With a 1-5 record over their last six games and just one run scored in each of their losses to the Nationals, there’s clearly room for improvement. Some of that comes from getting Jameson Taillon back off the IL.
The righty was activated Thursday after being shelved on April 20 (retro to April 17) with a left groin strain, giving the rotation a boost. After a pair of bumpy outings to start his Cubs career, Taillon looked great against the Dodgers in LA as he cruised through five shutout innings with seven strikeouts, two walks, and two hits. More of the same might actually be enough to get the Cubs a win.
The lineup has a little different look today once you get past Nico Hoerner at second base, Dansby Swanson at short, and Ian Happ in left. Seiya Suzuki is back in the cleanup spot and serving as the DH, Cody Bellinger is in center, and Patrick Wisdom moves up to sixth as the third baseman. Trey Mancini is at first, Nelson Velázquez is in right, and Miguel Amaya makes his MLB debut behind the plate.
That alone is cause for excitement, and I have the feeling the young catcher is going to do something special in this one. I’m also willing to bet Tucker Barnhart will be perched near the top step to greet Amaya and offer encouragement.
The reason for Bellinger dropping down and Mancini handling first is that the Nats have lefty Patrick Corbin on the mound for the series finale. Following a very good initial season in Washington, Corbin’s ERA has inflated each of the last three years. The 5.74 he’s putting up this season is more than half a run better than in 2022, so there’s that.
Mainly a sinker/slider guy, he’s almost abandoned his four-seam at this point in his career. I’m not really sure why that is because the sinker has been pretty awful. Corbin’s seldom-used changeup is also quite bad, which explains why righties are hitting .336 with a .919 OPS and six homers against him so far this season. He’s not going to miss many bats even with his decent slider, so this looks like a really good opportunity for the Cubs to generate more offense.
Hoerner is 4-for-4 against Corbin and Swanson has homered off him, so maybe the damage starts early. Speaking of which, this getaway game is the only early affair of the set. First pitch is at 12:05pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here's the #Cubs starting lineup for the series finale vs. Washington.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 4, 2023