I’m not going to check the facts on this, but I’m willing to bet the Cubs have been involved in more blowout games than any other MLB team. Both games in Philly and five of their last nine have been very lopsided, putting them at 12 total laughers by my count. There are others that could be considered uncompetitive in spite of closer final scores.
In any case, the Cubs can still win their series against the Phillies if they get a victory on Sunday behind Justin Steele. The lefty suffered his first loss of the season last time out against Houston in one of those games that I didn’t count as a blowout even if it really was. One bad inning doomed the starter, so simply avoiding that will make for a much better showing.
This is a different lineup for David Ross, though the top of the order is unchanged. Nico Hoerner is at second, Dansby Swanson is at short, Ian Happ is in left, and Seiya Suzuki is in right. Mike Tauchman is getting the start in center, followed by Chris Morel — who has seven homers in just 10 games — as the DH and Matt Mervis at first. Miles Mastrobuoni gives the Cubs another double-M as the third baseman and Tucker Barnhart handles the catching duties.
The Cubs are facing big righty Taijuan Walker, who has not been particularly good to this point in the season. He tends to sandwich two or three good starts between bad ones, however, so it’s entirely possible he’ll shove this afternoon. Walker has logged 100 pitches just once in nine starts and has completed five or more inning just four times, so we should see several relievers trying to hold things down.
The big thing to watch for in this one is the effectiveness of Walker’s splitter, which he throws about 36% of the time. When that’s on for him, he can work efficiently and shut down opposing lineups. When it’s not, and it’s been spotty so far, he can live up to his surname and put a lot of traffic on the bases.
First pitch is at 12:35pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is today's #Cubs starting lineup for the series finale vs. Philly.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 21, 2023